Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The final rounding at a Saturday evening buoy race off the Tred Avon YC, Oxford, MD

Spinnaker Fabric Business Model

This morning on NPR I heard a story that demonstrates, at least to me, why cloth is some of the best engineered fabric in the world. The piece is about entrepreneur Cindy Whitehawk (and her husband) – for seven years they’ve been selling wallets made of spinnaker cloth, a choice of fabric that allows them to claim billfolds as “thin as a dime.” Not only does the sailing fabric make wallets of distinctive thinness, it also “breathes” and repels body moisture, rain, spills, etc. Listen to the replay on NPR here – some recent publicity has overwhelmed their two person “All-Ett”shop and now they have more order than they can fill. Sailmakers have made wallets and duffels for years but these two have obviously perfected the form. File in the “I wish I thought of that” folder.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Transat Updates & the Figawi Kicks Off Summer

Be sure to read about the latest news from the Rolex Transat here – over the last 24 hours several crew members have sustained injuries, non fatal fortunately. Mal Parker on the GBR Challenge had his arm pulled into a winch. Bill Buckly on Maximus fell and dislocated his shoulder. With the summer officially beginning it’s appropriate to mention the Figawi race (where-the-f%@k-are-we) – a summer tradition in Nantucket. Here is a great article from the Cape Cod Times about the S/C Infanta, a Figawi champion Wianno Junior sloop that made her final appearance at the race this weekend – here are the Figawi results. Happy Memorial Day everyone!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Chesapeake Bay Log Canoe Under Sail

The Chesapeake Bay Log Canoe

We’re heading south to the Chesapeake Bay for the holiday weekend where I plan to get out on the water at long last. My parents have a house near St. Michaels on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. For those not familiar with the area, it’s a true blue sailor’s haven. When the weather is warm, sailboats of every stripe disembark from port towns like Oxford and St Michaels. From a culture perspective there’s a special class of dinghy, the “Chesapeake Bay Log Canoe”, equal part rightful terror and delight. So wildly unstable you need to run a plank to weather and move bodies out to keep the boat upright – makes short tacking a nightmare. All of these vintage boats have a solid history – check out the Chesapeake Bay Log Sailing Canoe Association and the links to biographies and pictures of the fleet. Silver Heel, for example, was built in 1902 by Eugene Thompson on Kent Island, Maryland as a workboat for John Wesley Dickerson. Island Bird, the smallest of all log canoes now racing, was built in 1882 at Tilghman's Island, Maryland by "Captain Sid", a man of many talents. Not only did he build log canoes, but he also operated a canning factory, acted as an agent for the steamboats that regularly called at Tilghman, served as the local magistrate and taught Sunday School .

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Wild Eyed Sailing Poets

It struck me today that for a dedicated to “Voyagers, Zealots, Poets and Populists,” I’ve been overlooking any direct correlation to the “Poets” segment. When I wrote the tagline I wanted to capture what I felt were some of the better attributes of sailing culture – traveling to far flung anchorages (or dreaming of doing so), a fanatical dedication to sailboats, the importance of access as opposed to elitism and, through the term “poets” a sense of the wild-eyed romance of the sea. Maritime poetry gives voice to human themes that the ocean evokes - loss and longing, loneliness and death, awe at the vast power of nature, a love for the water. History and tradition also play a strong role in maritime poetry; the sea chanteys sung aboard tall ships are prime examples. A well known classic is the Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Coleridge. Other poets include Michael Drayton and John Masefield (one of my favorites). Here is a link to a whole page of them for your reading pleasure. Please post with your favorites.

"A WIND'S in the heart of me, a fire's in my heels, I am tired of brick and stone and rumbling wagon-wheels; I hunger for the sea's edge, the limit of the land, Where the wild old Atlantic is shouting on the sand."

- from “A Wanderer's Song” by John Masefield

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Institutional Trifecta Develops Next Gen Sailors

An important component of any strong culture, is no exception, are foundational institutions that develop warriors and leaders for the next generation. In the case of sailboats and sailing three primary institutions make up the front line – yacht clubs (naturally), high school teams (if you’re lucky enough to go to high school on or near the water) and sailing camps. I’ve experience with two of the three – I learned to sail at the Stone Harbor YC in New Jersey and was an instructor at Cape Cod Sea Camps in Brewster, MA. I’ve always wished that…instead of playing lacrosse & soccer...I’d had the chance to hone my skills at a young age on a high school dinghy team. I didn’t learn to ski until I was 14 and though I can get down the slope with alacrity; my form leaves much to be desired. The same could be said for my skills around the buoys at the local YC match race – I’ve made strides after many years of crewing and racing but I recognize that the snap decisions you need to make while parallel processing wind speed and direction, current, position and favored course do not come as instinctually as if they’d been ingrained when I was young. I match raced in the summer at SHYC and later on Cape Cod...but there’s something about the camaraderie and structure of a high school sports team that really cultivates a winning skill set. Take a read here on the team from Point Loma High, CA and their bid for a third straight national Interscholastic Sailing Association Team Racing championship. I’d wager you’ll be reading about senior skippers (and All Stars) Adam Roberts and Parker Shinn somewhere down the road. A final mention on this topic, let's consider the wisdom of EVk4's "first rule of sailing" and try not to frighten the youngest of sailors by refusing to bear away ;-)

Line honors : Cesar Recalde takes a leap at the Armada Argentina Regatta in Rio de Janeiro 2005 (Photo credit: Daniel Forster & thanks to Ben Ellison for the forward)

Monday, May 23, 2005

Hungry Like a Wolf

As the 2005 Transatlantic Challenge begins and we follow the competitors and their daily progress (here and here) it’s a good time to consider the offshore racer, a special breed of sailor injured to the hardships and discomfort of pushing aggressively across the water 24/7 with no regard to personal safety in the high hopes of ultimate victory. In this vein read about 46-year old Duran Duran rocker Simon Le Bon and his next adventure (besides taking his aging act on the road). Simon nearly died in the 1985 Fastnet aboard Drum when her keel came off, a story in and of itself that is partially recounted in the article. Simon is going to take his life in hand once again and enter Drum in the next Fastnet race scheduled to begin August 7. It’s hard to say that I was a “fan” back in the 80’s and I’m certainly not now but you have to give this guy points on chutzpah. Name another popstar who’d willingly put themselves in this environment again after nearly being killed. He admits to a serious case of the shakes after the Drum disaster…"I had lost my nerve. I found it hard to sleep on the boat. I had my feet crushed up against the end of the bunk…” But now he’s back on the horse, slapping on face cream, eating sensibly, confining his post-show excess to a “glass of wine and a bite to eat” and in a 608 mile offshore race. And by the way, he has the balls to compare Duran Duran to the Rolling Stones. An offshore racer is, in part, someone possessesed of enough hubris that they see a low pressure wave on the weather fax as opportunity. Tighten those keel bolts Simon!

Friday, May 20, 2005

MAXIMUS practicing on New York Harbor two days before the start. (Photo credit: Rolex)

The 2005 Rolex Transatlantic Challenge Begins

The 2005 Rolex Transatlantic Challenge begins tomorrow, a very good topic to wrap up the week. This article in Sailing World by Tony Bessinger is a good read – in particular his quote from Carleton Mitchell’s book, “Passage East.” Before I read this and did research I didn't know much about Mitchell...his words are, as Bessinger notes, an inspiration. I wrote about the Transatlantic Challenge in April here and as you know, this is a race of immense historic significance. Bessinger will be reporting from the 130-foot S&S ketch Sariyah, sending daily reports to World. Sariyah is under charter to New York YC member Cortright Wetherill Jr. If you’re in New York City this weekend, at 9:00 AM a parade of sail begins down the Hudson River, past the Statue of Liberty, and out to a starting line that's roughly between Sandy Hook, N.J., and Ambrose Tower off New York Harbor. The first gun goes off at 2 p.m., and Class 1 starts at 2:10 p.m.. Class 2, Performance Cruising (Sariyah’s class) will start at 2:20 p.m., and Classes 3 and 4 will follow in 10 and 20 minutes, respectively. Fair winds and safe passage to all competitors. Have a great weekend!

"Racing a yacht across the North Atlantic is not entirely a technical feat nor even an adventure in the classic sense; but it is a great emotional and physical experience for those involved—moments of exhaustion and exultation, of cold fog and blazing sunshine, of hard driving and maddening drifting. And always watch after watch the routine of living and ship keeping goes on, day and night, with never a sense of monotony." - Carleton Mitchell

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Sails for Mirabella V

Busy day so a brief posting on sailmaking. Sailmakers, as many of you may know, are not just providers of essential cloth and repairers of ravaged spinnakers – they are an intrinsic part of culture. May of them are professional racers and otherwise skilled aboard a sailboat. Their profession brings them in touch with the big guns of the sport and their knowledge is valued on anything propelled on the water by wind. Unfortunately, many of them can be arrogant pricks, no names mind you but true enough to generalize. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t more than a few good apples out there – Ocean Navigator has a very interesting article here about Doyle Sailmakers' project for Ron Holland’s super-sloop Mirabella V, the largest single-masted sailing yacht yet built. Doyle is a great shop in my experience - staffed with folks who know and love the sport and don’t let that swell their heads. And that would be easy to do if you landed a project like this. Enjoy the article...

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

A Sailboat is a Sinkhole

I once entertained the idea of opening a “fractional” yacht ownership business somewhere in coastal CT but other things - diapers and pre-school tuitions, health care costs – intervened. I still think it’s a great idea…back in April I wrote an “Ode to Owning” that covered some of the issues around yacht ownership and mentioned Sailtime, the franchise that I’d linked up with for initial discussions around the business. They have a great model but I have to give it to 28-year old entrepreneur Ian Treibick from Stamford, CT. Read about his Greenwich-based WindPath, Inc. in Stamford Advocate – he’s founded a business along the same lines as Sailtime, but without the typical franchisee stress of feeding the corporate till. According to the article he’s already filled six of the eight “fractions” available for his 2005 35-foot Catalina 350. The following quote from Treibick sums up the wisdom of fractional ownership for sailors who lead otherwise busy and cost-intensive lives. I'll add that any 28-year old who has the wherewithal to find a viable way to make a living from his (or her) passion is well worth their salt.

"A sailboat is a sinkhole in the water," said Treibick, who grew up racing small Laser boats on the Long Island Sound. "The cost is pretty overwhelming for a lot of people."

Vintage America's Cup Class yachts race on the San Francisco Bay (Photo Credit: Tony Canadas) Posted by Hello

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

How Not to Fly the Chute & other tall tales

I’m a Scuttlebutt reader and enjoy their format, particularly the daily newsletter. The recent edition had a link to a set of pictures that rang a bell for me – take a look at how NOT to work your kite…but more telling than the photos is the appropriateness of the locale. If there's anywhere you’re going to get twisted it’s the SF Bay. I have many (not so) fond memories of kite carnage from my time on the Bay – one of the most spectacular was my experience on day two of the IACCSF Sausalito Cup) in June 2002 The wind piped up over 20 on the course. I was one of two mast men on John Sweeney’s boat, USA-11 Stars & Stripes. These vintage America’s Cup yachts are a thrill but huge part of the adrenaline is delivered by wondering what will break next. In this case it the topping lift went on the hoist, a seam on the kite blew and a block thru-bolted to the deck disintegrated….at least that’s how I remember it ;-) Not your typical kite twist...it removed us from the rest of the race. They called off day three due to an early blow that petered out by late morning. I remember Larry Ellison blustering to a small crowd of chin wagglers at the San Francisco Yacht Club bar while outside the stiff breeze shredded the Marin fog. It's funny how people pay attention to you when you’re worth a billion dollars. Wait, that’s a cheap shot…he’s a damn good sailor that Larry, Wired Magazine says so.

Dipping the rail aboard an unidentified classic yacht Posted by Hello

Monday, May 16, 2005

New Weblog Wingsail Goes Live

Fredrick Roswold has lived with his wife Judy Jensen on their 43’ sailboat WINGS for 19 years and, I'm honored to say, has become a frequent reader, posted many comments to Zephyr and recently wrote to let me know about his new "Zephyr inspired" blog, Wingssail. Fred and his wife typify the literate, itinerant voyagers who contribute immeasurably to culture (and help a desk-bound brother out) by chronicling their experiences from the far flung corners of the world. Thanks for the heads up Fred - safe travels and we look forward to following your exploits...

Destination Dalmatia

It’s a knee jerk reaction I suppose but say “Croatia” and I still think tank battles, refugees and swarthy eastern European gangsters. But those days are long gone, independence came in 1992 and now Croatia is a destination in its own right. For sailing, the Adriatic’s Dalmation coast - a stone’s throw but a world away from ritzier ports-of-call in the southern Med – has revived its centuries old seafaring history to become one of the truly superb modern charter sailing grounds. Most unfortunately I can’t speak from experience but check out this article that details a recent charter aboard a 50-foot yacht (five woman and their Captain ;-)…and if you want to plan a trip to Dalmatia be sure to read up here and here. The second link, the official Dalmatia sailing page from the Board of Tourism, has a wealth of information for you deskbound dreamers. In particular I enjoyed the "weather" section that explains the names of the various winds - the bura (bora) and the jugo-siroco (jugo-scirocco) are the main winds on the Adriatic. The prevailing wind in the summer is the maestral. Which begs the question, what do we call the two knot puff that tortures us in August during most hazy, hot and humid afternoons on Long Island Sound?

Friday, May 13, 2005

Bowman at Antigua Race Week 2005 (Photo Credit: Alastair Abrehart, www.caribbeanracing.com) Posted by Hello

Updates: Almeisan Disaster & Graeme Kendall

A few updates from previous stories to round off the work week but before I get to them I wanted to say that I hope all Zephyr readers have the chance to get out on the water over the weekend. It's still a bit early for the Northeast U.S., but by no means impossible to think that you may be spending your Saturday rather than weeding and mulching (like me). Here’s a full account (may need to register to view) of the recent disaster off of the coast of VA in which sailor Thomas Tighe perished. The article relays the perspective of Christopher Ferrer, one of the three relative novices who were aboard the 45-foot sailboat, Almeisan. In the article they compare the weather the vessel encountered to the blow featured in the novel and movie, The Perfect Storm. It’s a bit of hyperbole that, while far from accurate, can be forgiven in light of the tragedy. As well check out this update on sailor Graeme Kendall’s attempt to travel solo non stop around the world via the Arctic Northwest Passage. I first posted on this back in April – it’s a very daunting voyage and I look forward to following Graeme’s progress closely. He’s set to round Cape York, Queensland, in the next 24 hours and as the article recounts, “…will pass north of Australia and then head around the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa, then north across the Atlantic to the northern coast of Canada and Alaska through the Northwest Passage. He then travels south across the Pacific Ocean, returning to Auckland. It is estimated the trip will take 150 to 180 days and cover 28,000 (40,000km) nautical miles…”

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Where the Wild Things Are

I came across this article from Ocean Navigator about voyaging in the Red Sea. Technically a Red Sea crossing is the 1,300 mile sojourn from Bab al Mandab to the straits to Suez but according to the article, an east-to-west crossing from Asia to approach the southern end of the Red Sea can be undertaken with favorable winds only during the southeast monsoon, between January and May. There is a surfeit of similar detail on Red Sea passages, prevailing winds and currents, harbors, etc – but I’m also interested in the discussion around security (on the third page). I’ve posted on pirates here and here and, for those who live day-to-day in a relatively prosaic fashion, the thought of lawless bandits attacking sailors in places like the Red Sea is both captivating and alarming. Apparently because of the security risks, an informal SSB net has evolved where sailors check in with one another daily – another example of culture at work in the far flung corners of the earth. I am also entranced by the lead paragraph – the author says, Every ocean or sea has its own mythology, and though some of it is largely fictional, many of these myths have an element of truth: the Roaring Forties really do roar, and the Pacific can be as peaceful as its name implies. He goes on to talk about the myth of the Red Sea and its related characteristics (unmarked reefs, gale-force headwinds, pirates and hostile coastlines). Hoards of bare boaters and pleasure seekers swarm every known charter destination from the BVI to the Dalmatian coast and they leave no mystery in their wake. As risky as the Red Sea may be, at least it’s authentic…beyond the open ocean one of the last places where today sailors can experience a place as intrepid and barbarous as the world in which their forefathers once lived.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Wednesday Night Sailing Sanity Check

Hopefully many of you from northern climes are gearing up for your local yacht club’s Wednesday night summer racing series. Wednesday nights, as this article from the Baltimore Sun points out, are a great way to build racing experience in a more relaxed environment. The article discusses the Annapolis Yacht Club’s series – when I lived in Annapolis in the late 90's I was out nearly every Wednesday and despite the light air (a summertime dilemma on the east coast), I always had a blast, learned a bit about racing and enjoyed post-race socializing. For more on that see this post on Marmadukes. Now that I live in the NYC tri-state area I sail Wednesdays out of the Cedar Point Yacht Club through the summer. CPYC is on Saugatuck Island in Westport, CT – it’s a one design racing club, no fancy digs…just an open air clubhouse and a whole mess of . Every Wednesday night boat crews take turn putting out a pot luck supper for post-race festivities, children chase fireflies on the lawn as the sun sets over Long Island Sound, the lagging boats glide in as darkness falls. I don’t know about you, but after a long winter and more than enough time spent in office buildings, Wednesday night summer races keep me sane. The first of the season for CPYC is two weeks from today and I can’t wait!

Adjusting the spinnaker on a Watch Hill 15

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Say a Prayer for Thomas Tighe

The AP ran a story yesterday about sailors who were en route to Bermuda from Bridgeport, CT and encountered 28 to 33 knot winds off the coast of Virginia this past Sunday. Two of them abandoned ship in a life raft when their vessel began taking water from 16 to 20 foot waves. One of these two, Thomas Tighe, 65, from Patterson, N.Y, was found dead in the water…the other was rescued by a merchant mariner. Patterson, NY is just north of us and Bridgeport, CT is just south which meant that the story was picked up on our local TV news – they showed footage of a battered vessel being swept by wind and waves. Most of us recognize that we should never (ever) abandon ship short of an imminent beating on the rocks, a conclusive lack of buoyancy or a short swim to the beach bar. While it’s easy to sit safely on shore and pass judgment on the poor seamanship of others…it’s much more interesting to me to speculate on the scene in the tight, cramped cabin - wind howling and lashing an increasingly fragile and out-of-control craft. I imagine them broadside to the swells, the rhythmic beat down of the waves slowly unmanning them inch by inch until two defect under the protest of the others, can’t take what feels like waiting to drown and decide to act, to ride the storm to safety in a rubber raft at the utter mercy of the elements. I’ve been in 40 knots with gusts tapping 50 off the Virginia coast; weather so foul that the owner, who is a damn good sailor, was content to let his paid crew take the spanking at the helm while offering the occasional word of encouragement through the companionway. Anyone who tells you they’re not afraid during a true blow is a fool or a liar – either way you don’t want to go to sea with them. Its managing the fear that matters and if you let it get on top of you, it will be a bad ride. God speed Thomas Tighe from Patterson, NY.

Eternal Father, strong to save
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave.
Who bidd'st the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep
Oh hear us when we cry to thee
For those in peril on the sea.

- William Whiting

Monday, May 09, 2005

Old Salt Sails South with Sandy

, an endeavor that demands physicality, mental acuity and the ability to be uncomfortable for long stretches of time, has a youthful reputation. Granted the grizzled old salt is a longtime clichĂ© but serious racing or offshore voyaging is best suited to those with a certain level of stamina and vigor. This means a lot of the content about sailing focuses on younger people – though it seems that the definition of “young” is fairly elastic (think Dennis Conner, no spring chicken) it’s not often that you come across stories about older folks going sailing – which is why this tale from the Miami Herald is so refreshing. The article is about a retired machinists search for love, and maybe just as importantly a voyaging companion for his dream sail to the Caribbean. You may feel, as I do, that his methods (piteous boat signage) were unlikely to succeed but they worked in the end – just barely – and now these two are setting sail for adventures south to Trinidad then south to Argentina and back. The article notes that their trip will also be chronicled on a Web site, http://sandyandtom .com but nothing up to date. If and when they go live I’ll post the link.

The Toscana Elba Cup

Toscana Elba Cup, May 7 Semi Finals: Spithill vs.Coutts (Photo Credit: www.elbacup.org)

Friday, May 06, 2005

"Houses are for landlubbers." - Warwick "Commodore" Tompkins Jr.

During my nearly five years living and in San Francisco I learned the legend of the 85-foot North Sea Pilot Schooner Wanderbird originally owned by Warwick Tompkins Sr. Both Spencer Tracy and Clark Gables famously voyaged aboard the schooner, but it was home to the Tompkins family, Warwick Sr, his wife and two children, Warwick Jr and his sister Ann. The Marin Independent Journal covers now 73 year old Warwick Jr’s “retirement,” and recounts some of the history of his family as well as his long, well established association with boats as a Sausalito-based rigger, consultant and the “most experienced delivery skipper in the world.” The sum of Warwicks life is a genuine tableau vivant of sailing. His recollection (in the article) of the watershed moment where he decides he's had enough of caring for other people’s boats, resonates with me. It’s this exact feeling that led me to quit crewing on the Maxi (and to postpone my goal of a USCG Captain’s license), though his subsequent decision to design/build his own boat "Flashgirl" in no way mirrors my descent into sterile, fluorescent lighted cubicledom. Warwick Sr wrote a tremendous account “Fifty South to Fifty South" detailing the Tompkins family's 1936 voyage in Wanderbird from 50°S to 50°S in 28 days - well worth the price of admission. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Sailors are intrinsically storytellers

Technology is having a significant impact on sailing culture, particularly in how sailors communicate with one another and share information about key aspects of voyaging and cruising (weather, friendly ports-of-call, sheltered anchorages). Some of the best examples of this are found in the multitude of individual sailing weblogs being published…with more popping every day. Unlike Zephyr, which focuses on a specific topic (sailing culture) and covers it broadly, these sailing blogs are written from the perspective of voyagers, boatbuilders, weekend warriors – they're mostly about the individual journey and serve as a two-way, grassroots window into the sailing world. When I was mate on the Maxi in the late 90’s I used to punch out email updates to all my desk-bound friends back in the States, compile a mailing list and send them whenever I could find an Internet cafĂ© when we paused in Roadtown, English Harbor, Culebra, etc. I remember people enjoyed them, forwarded them all over their offices, to friends across the country. Sailors are intrinsically storytellers and the Internet has magnified this attribute. Consider the shift from the viral, uncontrolled mass email to a narrow-casted, self published weblog. We are witnesses to this technology proliferating, evolving and beginning to virtually knit together the larger community...not surprisingly the results are (like many things in life) heterogeneous - we discover compelling content side-by-side with the trite, sublime with mundane, unique with conventional... Take a look in my Zephyr link roster for more examples and please comment with any I've missed.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Blind Team racing in Boston Harbour (Photo credit: www.blindsailing.org) Posted by Hello

Vincent Morvillo & Knowles Pittman

The May issue of Sailing World has a piece on blind sailor Vincent Morvillo. At the Ensign Nationals in Newport, R.I. in 2004, Vince (a former Blind Sailing World Champion) beat a fleet of 40 boats all driven by skippers with sight. At the time he was 60 years old...and had been blind since his 20's. Here’s a 2004 interview with Vince on Anarchy. During the course of the interview he responds to a question about how he “feels” his way through the course by saying, “If you think about it when you feel the change in the boat, the worst has happened. Speed is a function of not letting things happen that reduce speed.” Next time you’re out on your local course close your eyes on an upwind leg and let your other senses guide you (and may the force be with you). Most of us depend on sight, but I think we use other senses more than we know. On a related note, Knowles Pittman died April 28. If you haven’t read it there’s a great tribute in Scuttlebutt from his friend Bruce Kirby. Pittman started the grass roots publication One-Design Yachtsman (now Sailing World) in 1962. As Kirby writes, “Until then there had been publications that published stories on big boat events on the east and west coasts, with perhaps an annual mention of the Chicago Mackinaw Race. The middle of the country, and the small boat sailors that swarmed over the lakes and rivers of this vast area, were pretty well ignored.” Both of these men have and, in the case of Vince, continue to contribute immeasurably to the culture of .

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Unidentified tall ships press on sail during annual Tall Ships Race

Everyone Loves a Tall Ship

Everyone loves a Tall Ship if you've ever seen one make way under full sail then chances are you've felt something nearly visceral tug at your heart. It's an ancient sight that harkens back to a simpler and as anyone who has crewed will tell you, more physically demanding time. Take a look at this article about the Pride of Baltimore II, a replica of a 19th-century Baltimore clipper, and her upcoming Atlantic crossing. She's bound for a goodwill tour of Europe. According to the article, the first stop will be the small port of Baltimore, in West Cork, Ireland. If you don't remember (or never know) the original Pride, the first Baltimore clipper to be built in 150 years, was sunk on May 14 in 1986 off the coast of Puerto Rico, having capsized in 80 mile per hour winds that developed suddenly and with no warning. The vessel had been struck and sunk so quickly that there was no time to radio for help. Four crew, including Captain Armin Elsaesser, were lost. Pride II was commissioned and built in the spring of 1987 and has since enjoyed many a sanguine voyage in the States as well as ports-of-call abroad. Tall Ships are an important part of sailing today and a fascinating subculture in their own right. In some ways, you might compare people who dedicate their lives to sailing, building and maintaining these gorgeous vessels (there are many) to the folks who reenact Civil War battles or those ladies and gents who staff Colonial Williamsburg - of course being sailors, the tall shipies are far cooler and not quite as, well, nerdy as the old fella who packs his musket and marches on the British...but I bet that if you got them together at the bar, you'd see an affinity.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Blessing of the sharks and other tales

For those of us who live in northern climes annual blessing of the fleet ceremonies signaling the start of the season are likely top of mind. Check out this story from Bowling Green, Kentucky not a town that comes to mind when we think "sailing mecca," but nonetheless a contribution that reminds us that sailing (or at least boating) can occur anywhere there happens to be water and wind...for example I once taught Hobie classes on a lake outside Boulder, CO. The Bowling Green article titled "Checklist for Those that Boat" is a suspiciously good review of boating rules and regs- though it seems to be slanted to the powerboat set we will have to give our landlocked cousins some credit. On an unrelated note I picked up a New York Daily News this morning, a front page story on two teens blown off the coast of Charleston, SC on a Sunfish. They battled sharks and dehydration for 6 days until finally rescued by a passing fishing boat. They'd resorted to drinking seawater and eating jellyfish, a very modified Atkins regimen guaranteed to slim you down. Having ignored National Weather Service warnings of high winds they were found over 111 nautical miles from when they were last seen, not bad time for a Sunfish.