Monday, June 29, 2009

Renaming a Boat

On a recent trip to the Bay Area, we were fortunate to attend the renaming of a boat owned by sailors close to us.

The main issues here seem to be disposing of a name that is inconsistent with the new sailor's personality, while not pissing off the gods of the seas and winds.

One rechristening I witnessed replaced the name Three Sheets to the Wind. Since the owner involved is not a heavy drinker and usually has things trimmed properly, this seemed reasonable. An almost automatic name change involves the purchase of a boat with the name of an ex-wife.

In addition to the DMV and/or the Coast Guard, every vessel name is recorded in the Ledger of the Deep and is known personally by Poseidon.

Pissing off Poseidon is the last thing a sailor wants to do. When angry, he has been known to take away all wind for weeks, send rogue waves to swallow you in the night or my favorite the shark attack.

There is a long list of things on the ocean that require Poseidon's blessing. Obtaining permission usually involves asking for the thing nicely and pouring a shot of rum overboard. This is a small hardship since it is followed by a round for the crew.

The renaming has two parts. First is the removal of the name from the Ledger of the Deep with the appropriate rum tossed overboard. Next, is the re-christening where the vessel is bathed in champagne. Owners of smaller boats may pour the champagne over the bow. Even cheap champagne may come in a fiberglass smashing bottle. Each part has an a short invocation with many variants. Our host used something very similar to Vigor's Interdenominational Boat Denaming Ceremony. The two previous boats that I witnessed used the same. Neither has sunk or been becalmed for weeks, so this must be adequate.

One other thing, all traces of the old name must be removed from the boat and her possessions. No item with the new name should be taken aboard prior to Poseidon getting his shot. This last bit may explain the special "bikini top" our host made to hide the name before the ceremony. He had a hailyard hooked to the "bikini". With the flick of the wrist, he "set the puppies free" as the champagne was poured. This was, of course, followed by a round for the crew.

Fair winds to Bliss and all who sail on her.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Night Sky, A Tutorial

You are out on the ocean on a clear, moonless night. The heavens are alive. The GPS tells you exactly where you are. The GPS will be there unless all of your backup units are hit by lightning or six or seven satellites simultaneously fall from the sky. Still, you wonder about what it was like in he old days, prior to the late '80s, when sailors navigated by the stars.

Perhaps you are like me, thinking you should learn more about the stars and even cellestial navigation. There are so many other things to fix on the boat that this always falls down the list. It is easier to buy another backup GPS. In my case, this has lead to ignorance of almost everything I see when I look up.

The Night Sky is a simple tutorial that will help you remove the first layer of scales from your eyes. It will teach you the main constellations tht are key to understanding the night skies. I is simple and fun. Check it out.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Polaris at Sailstice

Polaris, the 103 year old “pumpkinseed” sloop, was on display at Summer Sailstice in Clipper Cove, Treasure Island last weekend. She is a 34 foot gaff rigged boat that was built in San Francisco in 1906. The Spaulding Wooden Boat Center now owns and maintains her. She is a regular at Bay Area boating events including the Master Mariner's Regatta and Boat Show.

Whole Lotta Rosie

S/V Rosehearty is tied up at the Kona Kai here in San Diego. She is a 184 foot Perini Navi ketch. Her size makes it difficult to capture her scale in a photograph. The masts are 5 or 6 stories tall. That is about a 40 foot sport fisher in the foreground of the photo.

Available for charter at 220,000 Euros a week, if her owner does not require her.

Rosehearty is registered in the Isle of Man to one Rupert Murdoch, subjugator of the Fourth Estate.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Book Recommendation: Rounding the Horn

Rounding the Horn: Being the Story of Williwaws and Windjammers, Drake, Darwin, Murdered Missionaries and Naked Natives--a Deck's-eye View of Cape Horn is a captivating book by Dallas Murphy. The author interleaves the story of his visit to Cape Horn on Skip Novak's Pelagic with those of the explorers and old salts that had confronted it in the past. Also included, are sections on the politics, biology, weather and anthropology. The book is very accessible to both sailors and lubbers.

One particular section I found interesting was the story of the windjammer British Isles' 1905 passage which took 71 days to round the horn west bound. I recently read Sterling Hayden's Voyage: A Novel of 1896. A major portion of the fictional voyage of Neptune's Car seems to be based directly on the tale of the British Isles.

What the Captain Said has a post of famous quotes from the man in command. Here are a selection:

Don’t turn the ship for any small vessel unless you see the fear of god in the boater’s eye while he’s frantically pulling his outboard’s rip-cord.

When asked the captain why he spends so much time in the office: There comes a time in most men’s careers when they stop being paid for what they do and start getting paid for what they know…. and by asking such a question of your Captain it’s clear to me that if you want a check next month you better go find a chipping hammer.

The Captain of an Ocean Tug to an AB having just come from supply boats in the Gulf: Son - You’re on a tug now! When we back up to a rig - it means we’re taking the motherf….r with us!

Cadet, whenever you see an aircraft carrier on the horizon just think of the theme song from Jaws and act accordingly.

Old Master to a young mate: I thought I made a mistake once, but I was wrong.

I’m hitting the rack. Call anytime just remember… if you need me I don’t need you!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Been on the Road

We have been on the road from San Diego to Los Angeles and now Oakland. Some of the accommodations have not had very good connectivity.

We found the graphic on a wall at the new California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. Our trip probably ranks in the middle of the pack on this CO2 scale. Flying looks good compared the Escalades and Expeditions.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Cruising Gadget: Duralite Solar Panels

We have had two of the Duralite (GPDL-20) 20 watt solar panels onboard for several months now. They have worked very well including over 1000 miles off shore. They supplement our other large panels that produce about 120 watts. Our total of 160 watts allows us to be on the hook indefinitely without starting the engine.

In full sunlight they will put out about 1.63-1.65 amps. They also work in lower light an even when half shaded.

The big advantage to these is their small size. They are 24.5 x 20 inches and about .25 inches thick, weighing under 2 pounds. This allows you to move them around or stow them away easily.

At 11.5 dollars per amp, they are a bit pricier than large traditional panels. They work in places that larger panels would not fit.

You can also get these in 5 and 10 watt models. The smaller models would work well for unattended battery maintenance.

These are made by Carmanah Technologies Corporation in Victoria, British Columbia. We got ours from Alter Systems in Berkeley, but they are available at many solar outlets.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Cruising Destination: Antigua

Wind powered poetry. The Antigua Classic Regatta is held in April each year.

This film is by Acqua Films, which specializes in filming major yachting events. This is just one of many shorts available on their site.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Taihoa is a wooden double ender built in 1947. She looks like a flush deck variation of an Ingrid, designed by George Band. She is 37'10" on deck, but is 6 inches narrower at 11 feet. The reduced beam reflected at a little under 13 tons.

In 2007, she won the Best Live Aboard Award at the Victoria Classic Boat Festival.

Taihoa is a Maori word meaning "wait a minute".

You can learn more about her here.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Oakland Estuary in Earlier Days

Found this picture over at The Adventures of the Sailing Vessel Macha.

A previous life for the Oakland Estuary and what a difference. Many of the last square riggers such as Star of India and Falls of Clyde had a stint in this fleet as well as working as lumber carriers and Cape Horners.

If you want a fictional, yet historic picture of ships like these, I would suggest Sterling Hayden's Voyage, A Novel of 1896.

Monday, June 8, 2009

West Wind

West Wind is another Norwegian Colin Archer Gaff Cutter. The boat has a nice web site complete with video. If I understand the site the boat was built in 1888. At 38 feet on deck, she is very similar to an Ingrid.

Hidden Emerald

There is a beautiful miniature grotto above Laguna's Main Beach. Brown's Park is about 10 by 20 meters of lush landscape and public are in bronze and wood. It terminates at the end of the cliff with the poem shown in the picture that is cast in bronze and highlighted with bottle glass.

It is worth a look if you are passing through.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Gamut in Newport

Newport Beach, California is known for the rich and sometimes famous. Then there is the Newport Pier, which is home to dives such as Blackie's and The Beach Ball.

Older than the bars, is the Dory Fishing Fleet where fishermen have been rowing or motoring out for the local catch since 1891.

On the other end of the spectrum are big houses, Ferraris and this place. Barney's Barkery on Balboa Island had very nice cookies and candies for dogs at one to several dollars apiece. I swear if you put them out at a cocktail or birthday party people would down them.

Where Old Propellers Retire

We went to the Minney's Nautical Swap Meet in Costa Mesa this weekend. It was over a block long on Newport Boulevard. There was the usual junk and the occasional diamond in the rough.

Minney's store is quite amazing. Two stories of a large building full of stuff stripped off of old yachts. The prop room contained several hundred items alone.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Hawaiian Monk Seals

Known in Hawaiian as "ilio holo i ka uaua", or dog that runs in rough water, the seals' English name is inspired in part by the animals' solitary ways. The Hawaiian monk seal (Monachus schauinslandi) is considered the most endangered seal in U.S. waters, with only about 1,200 seals left.

The most endangered seal in the world is another species of monk seal, the Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus), of which there are only about 600 seals left in the Mediterranean. The Caribbean monk seal (Monachus tropicalis), a third species of monk seal, is now extinct.

Please sign the petition so that NOAA might continue funding of research to save this species.

Jean-Michel Cousteau has more information here.

Thanks to RLW at Boat Bits for bringing this to my attention.

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