It's been a tremendous week in Zephyr's short life - many thanks to the shout out from Panbo's Electronics Blog - as well as the kind review in the April 27 issue of Scuttlebutt, a mention on Patrick's Sailing Blog ...and new Zephyr link postings from sources like the EVK4 Bloglet, Navagear and the New Orleans Yacht Club. If you've been entertained please subscribe to the site feed and pass the word along to your mates. Enjoy the weekend and see you on Monday (and if you get bored click through the archives for past postings).
Saturday, April 30, 2005
Friday, April 29, 2005
Posted by Zephyr (Sail) at 12:24 AM
"Never in my life before have I experienced such beauty, and fear at the same time. Ten icebergs so far today ..." - Ellen MacArthur
When I was in high school (a long time ago) I departed an all male situation for a more “enlightened” education at a co-ed institution. The details of my personal history are irrelevant but the feeling that shift gave me isn’t – despite the fact that women tend to vex me I enjoy their company more often than not. So it is that I can say with conviction that the ever growing presence of woman in sailing today is a welcome trend generally. For a female perspective on that check out this interview with Betsy Alison on Anarchy. In answer to a question concerning “male backlash” she says rather adroitly, “Women are certainly starting to be recognized for the job they can do, and the skills they have. And socially…..I really can't picture an après sailing party with a bunch of guys dancing by/with themselves.” Amen Betsy, it's not a pretty sight. But in all seriousness, I’ve been offshore, around the cans and out for booze cruises with woman aboard and, true to form, they’re sociable, level-headed (mostly), tactical-minded, team-spirited…and to boot smell better than any deck ape. And many of them are damn good sailors (think Tracy Edwards, Dawn Riley, Lisa Charles and the indomitable Ellen MacArthur). It’s hard to imagine that our nautical forefathers spit sideways and muttered darkly about voodoo curses when women were aboard. Of course they doled out rations of rum to supposedly calm unruly crew as well so there's really no telling... Gentlemen, do yourselves a favor and click through the shots on Scuttlebutt from the Collegiate Women's Pacific Coast Championships. It’s a truly inspiring group of photos.
Posted by Zephyr (Sail) at 12:00 AM
Thursday, April 28, 2005
Posted by Zephyr (Sail) at 2:59 PM
Are you stuck on the hamster wheel of life, unfulfilling day job, a car loan, the monthly rent/mortgage, insurance bills, cell phone fees stacking up…a perfect storm of land-based hassles keeping you from being true to the voyaging life? Do you spend your eight plus in a cubicle surfing sailing sites, reading about far off lands, reliving memories from that one week bareboat charter vacation in the BVI you took with your college roommates six years ago – or if you’re in school do you, instead of studying, spend endless hours virtually beating your hairy sailing chest on the Anarchy forums? Hey, there’s nothing wrong with any of this…but if you are this person then you probably know deep down you’re pissing away your dwindling time on Planet Earth. C’mon, live a little, follow your heart, take a risk and read this article from, of all things, Mother Earth News. The author just returned from a seven-month voyage ... a journey that touched down on four major continents over more than 8,000 miles - he covers how to make that bluewater crew berth of a lifetime a reality. It’s a terrific piece, chock-a-block with useful and well found advice. The typical cautionary notes are all there: feel comfortable with the crew, be certain you can handle not taking a shower, be cheerful and easy going, make eye contact. I’ll add another one based on my humble experience. Think twice before crewing offshore for a newly divorced, recently retired investment banker with a schizoid 35 year old bisexual Italian girlfriend. Let's just say the duct tape came in handy about 350 miles out. Ahhh sailing
Posted by Zephyr (Sail) at 12:15 PM
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Strip away the regatta jock egos, post race posturing and the poor manners of the champ who anchored upwind of you in Cane Garden Bay during a blow without enough rode…and then promptly departed in his dinghy for the bar – well then you have most of the rest of us (hopefully) and guys like Steven Belton from San Pedro, CA. Steve started “Jordan’s Sailing Club” out of Jordan High School on 2265 East 103rd Street in Los Angeles – a perfectly fine institution of learning as far as I know…just not a lot in common with, say, the bar scene in English Harbor this week. To be more precise,
Posted by Zephyr (Sail) at 12:16 AM
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Posted by Zephyr (Sail) at 3:24 PM
The 38th annual Antigua Race (Sailing) Week kicked off yesterday. Here’s a synopsis of the first day from Sailhead.com. Be sure to check in through the week here and here for updates. It looks like there’s a terrific competitive line up in the big boat class – including Tom Hill's Titan XII, the topic of this post – here is the official 2005 scratch sheet. I wrote about Antigua Sailing Week back in March…it’s an epic event and well worth attending if you have the chance…the analogy I use is that it’s like a Mardi Gras for sailors, big and brassy, crowded and sometimes a little out of control. The Antigua Classics Regatta on the other hand is more like Jazz Fest, mellower, classier and maybe a bit more even keeled. I guess another way to put it is…are you a reader of Sailing Anarchy or Latitude 38 ;-)
Posted by Zephyr (Sail) at 10:19 AM
Monday, April 25, 2005
Posted by Zephyr (Sail) at 12:35 AM
Music is an integral part of any culture – sailing is no exception. Jimmy Buffet is the prototypical nautical minstrel and, though I’m no parrot head by any stretch, I’ll cop to a fondness for some of his tunes…particularly the ones on the “Boats” disc from his box set, Boats, Beaches, Bars & Ballads. As well “A Pirate Looks at Forty” will have meaning for me before too long. Many different types of music above and beyond the more popular variety contribute to sailing culture – check out this link to Hull’s International Sea Shanty Festival and this one to the Sea Music Festival sponsored by the San Francisco Maritime Museum. Historically, sea chanteys began as work songs aboard the tall ships and schooners that plied the oceans when trade was conducted under sail.
Sea chanteys, traditional shipboard work songs, were created and sung by sailors to lift spirits and maintain rhythm while working as a team. Other sea songs, like forebitters, ballads and drinking songs, were sung at leisure, or ashore. Today, these songs are a musical porthole into the past.
A few of my favorite sailing songs include “Lee Shore” by CSN – taken from their days aboard the schooner Mayan (acquired by David Crosby in 1967), Lyle Lovett “If I Had a Boat”, “When I Feel the Sea Beneath my Soul” by Taj Mahal "Sailing to Philadelphia" by Mark Knopfler and “Into the Mystic” by Van Morrison. I’ll be glad to compile a “Top Ten Sailing Songs of All Time” so please cast your vote by commenting on this post.
We were born before the wind
Also younger than the sun
Ere the bonnie boat was won as we sailed into the mystic
Hark, now hear the sailors cry
Smell the sea and feel the sky
Let your soul and spirit fly into the mystic
Posted by Zephyr (Sail) at 12:18 AM
Friday, April 22, 2005
In early April Zephyr commented - like every other sailing site - on the travails of the good ship Yachtsea, a Santana 22 that was crushed beneath the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco when she tried to run the current off of Fort Point. Pictures of the disaster were captured by photog Wayne Lambright with a Nikon D2h (with a 70-300mm lens) that shoots 8 frames per second. If you haven't seen the shots check them out here. Apparently the captain of the vessel, Joe Schmidt, a human resources executive from San Carlos, California - is now ready to give his account of the disaster. Great reporting by SAIL Magazine. According to the story in the two weeks following the April 2 posting, Wayne Lambright's web site had 17,000,000 page views. That's traffic we all can envy! The SAIL story is a good inside account but my favorite part was the apparent "harbinger" that occured when a crew member fell off the boat at the dock before the race began. Sailors are a notoriously superstitious lot, a part of sailing culture I plan to explore in more depth...and I applaud Schmidt for incorporating this illogical but congruous happening into the lore of his tale. Both the captain and crew were rescued by surfers - a detail proving to me once again that (pirates aside) we are all brethren on the water.
The wave went vertical, and things happened fast: "Is this the way I'm going, I wondered? I didn't know what the hell happened. It was like a freight train had hit us."
Posted by Zephyr (Sail) at 9:03 AM
Thursday, April 21, 2005
Here's a good follow-up topic to a March Zephyr post on color in sailing. Twenty-five-year-old Ashton Sampson is a (the first) black South African crewmember racing for America's Cup Challenge 2007 sailing Team Shosholoza. No need to restate – it’s been well covered. On Zephyr Andy Burton commented in regard to the lack of color in sailing, “I like to think that sailing is the last resistance to the rampant political correctness so pervasive in our land society. If black people want to get into sailing, they will.” I agree with him about self determination, but as any realist can tell you, a black person simply wanting to be part of something is not always enough to make it so. In the case of sports that resist integration (these days we can count sailing and lawn bowling), often there's a person who pushes the boundary with lasting impact. Think Arthur Ashe, Jackie Robinson, possibly even Tiger Woods. Is Ashton Sampson sailing’s Arthur Ashe? Maybe so...in
Posted by Zephyr (Sail) at 12:06 AM
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
New Zealander Graeme Kendall aims to sail solo around the world – not a unique ambition, but well worth noting because he’s attempting a first in sailing by traveling via the Arctic Northwest Passage. He leaves next week and according to this article, faces a trip of 150 to 180 days while covering over 28,000 nautical miles. His 40 foot, Kevlar-reinforced yacht is billed as “unsinkable.” For his sake we hope so. In the article he rates his chances of success 60 – 40 and notes that polar bears are worry - they are drawn by the smell of food cooking. The
Posted by Zephyr (Sail) at 1:36 PM
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Tom raised the Coast Guard out of
“Roger,” Tom responded. “Standing by.” He called for one of the delivery crew to come below and monitor the VHF and then we both went topside to look for the helicopter. The night was still black, no moon so we heard the craft before we spotted it, a low thump thump that built to a crescendo until it was hovering off our port bow. The wash from the rotors stirred the water and plucked at our clothes. We were drifting slowly, no sails up, so we made an easy target. Our mate from below on the radio shouted up that they were going to lower the barrel. It came down slowly, swaying in the wind and as it swung over our port rail Tom and I grabbed it, guided it to the deck. He unclipped it and gave them thumbs up - we caught the glimpse of someone waving from the open bay door and then they were gone. Inside was a long rubber hose about nine inches in diameter and the pump. We unpacked it and set it up, jumped the motor and watched in relief as water began to pour over the side. - Stay tuned to Zephyr for the final chapter.
Posted by Zephyr (Sail) at 9:52 AM
Monday, April 18, 2005
Posted by Zephyr (Sail) at 10:33 AM
A final post on low country sailing. The wedding on Saturday was in Rockville, SC, about an hour south of Charleston on the Bohicket creek. This trip has been a good reminder that sailing culture is an intimate part of coastal geography down south - as well as an opportunity to learn a little about how the south sails. The reception was held at the Sea Island Yacht Club, less grand than the previous nights cocktail party at the Carolina Yacht Club in Charleston but a place of equal historical significance in these parts. And to the point from the last post of these clubs bringing the past into the present, Sea Island YC is the home of the (locally) famed Rockville Regatta. Here's a very good article on the topic from Sailnet, which describes the event as a "NASCAR meets Wimbledon."
The Rockville Regatta holds a special significance and appeal for everyone who attends. Much of this stems from the fact that it's always been somewhat of a family affair, with its ranks populated by the descendants of plantation owners who annually sought refuge from the August heat in their summer homes here.
Posted by Zephyr (Sail) at 9:49 AM
Saturday, April 16, 2005
Friday, April 15, 2005
We flew to
Posted by Zephyr (Sail) at 11:06 PM
Thursday, April 14, 2005
Posted by Zephyr (Sail) at 12:02 PM
Sailing World posted an article on racing “ethics” today – along with a quiz on sportsmanship that will, I suppose, help you understand your chances of going up before the committee on a protest. Ethics are a good thing and as important to sailing culture as anything else – but this topic brings to mind many stories of the “captain who lost his/her shit and began screaming at someone at the line” variety. Racing often is a high octane endeavor with egos, emotions and usually submerged Napoleon-type character flaws on full display. I was crewing on a maxi during a near disastrous T-bone in St. Maarten and can testify the challenge of keeping ones “sportsmanlike” demeanor when a multi-ton yacht is bearing down on your broadside (and you have right of way). One rule of thumb I’ve always tried to follow is to let the Captain be the one to go postal. After all he (or she) is the person who'll have to stand tall before the man and explain. As anyone who has been exposed understands, nothing spoils a post-race buzz more than a protest hearing. But back to the article…some may deem a sailing "miss manners" a little ridiculous but this author, under the moniker of “sporty” raises interesting and topical issues. For example, how useful to have an answer to the question, “Is it OK for your friends to help by covering or tacking on a competitor on the last day of a regatta if you didn't ask for help?” (No) Here's a link to the IASF racing rules and regs for your viewing pleasure. Anyone with an outrageous sportsmanship tale throw me a comment and I’ll post.
Posted by Zephyr (Sail) at 11:10 AM
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
For those with a hefty tax return, a sudden windfall or a big spring bonus here's an article (billed as a guide) in Forbes magazine about buying a sailboat. The article quotes Phil Bennett, senior sales director for The Hinckley Company, "A boat can be a very emotional purchase...make sure that you use a little bit of rational thinking, or you may end up with more boat than you need." In my experience rationality isn't usually a major component of desire (see this post). So what about buying a boat in the real world...you know the one with college savings, mortgages and credit card debt? Depend on a broker, advises Forbes. Well sure, if you want to pay a hefty commission. Advice from salesman Mitchell Gibbons-Neff of Sparkman & Stephens in reference to a 114 yacht, "...a professional crew is harder to find than a good boat." Thanks Mitch. And surprise, Forbes says name brand has something to do with cost, cites examples like Swan, German Frers, Farr and Sparkman & Stephens. Most of us should probably look beyond Forbes for counsel... a big take away from my time working on sailboats is the money it takes just to maintain a vessel - it's staggering. Ever seen the owners face when a spinnaker blows? Clichés come to mind, for example, "If you want to know what it's like to own a boat stand in a cold shower and rip up $100 bills." A silly thought but not far off. Interesting models have emerged to deal with the expense of owning. Check out Sailtime, a franchise that sells shares of a boat, usually a Hunter, so that cost is distributed. The boat I raced on in San Francisco was owned by a small group of partners. This can work if you can get along, agree to take turns being captain, etc. Here's a link to an article that details some of the legal aspects. Failing all of that there's always the classifieds. Given the qualities of fiberglass it's reasonable to expect to be able to find a well maintained second or third hand boat that can be serviceable for years. Just remember to factor the cost of maintenance and ongoing care.
Posted by Zephyr (Sail) at 12:47 PM
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
In an earlier post I raised the question of carrying arms aboard. As many may agree, in the end it is (like anything else) a trade off. In this case a sense of safety/ability to defend exchanged for the increased scrutiny. It's the goal of any cruiser to keep a low profile and a weapon aboard when clearing customs is not conducive. But, should you be planning to cruise lovely
"The pirates were well organized and well armed. There were at least 4 boats involved. They had set up a picket line out from the Yemen coast probably at least for 50-75 miles, so if you transited the area during the day they wouldnt miss you."
Posted by Zephyr (Sail) at 10:03 AM
Monday, April 11, 2005
Posted by Zephyr (Sail) at 10:40 AM
Unbelievable spring weather this past weekend in the northeast...the sort that had every winter weary sailor worth his or her salt sanding, priming, cleaning, varnishing, unpacking and airing out gear in preparation for the season. I was invited to help wet sand and rig an Express 37 I’ve been racing with since I moved to CT from San Francisco but, unfortunately, couldn't make it. To those who dread boat maintenance, “unfortunately” might be the wrong word...but for me there's nothing quite so much fun as messing about on boats - even if they are still on the hard in the yard. The seasonal rituals of boat maintenance (winter storage/spring prep) have definitive qualities that evoke thoughts and feelings related to the great cycle of life, a love of the water and warmer weather, the anticpation of endless summer evenings, crossing the line at twilight, anchoring under a hundred million stars. Whether it's sanding the bottom, digging in a mildewed locker, clearing lines or sorting the lazerette...as long as the sun warms my back, birds sing and a fair salt breeze stirs the boatyard - this is work with a purpose and it gladdens my heart. Here's an article about prepping from boats.com. Another good resource for spring prep in Boating World.
Posted by Zephyr (Sail) at 10:13 AM
Friday, April 08, 2005
Posted by Zephyr (Sail) at 11:08 AM
"I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast; for I intend to go in harm's way." - John Paul Jones
The NYYC’s 2005 Rolex Transatlantic begins May 21, 20 - an epic race where the world's largest and fastest sailing yachts cross the
Posted by Zephyr (Sail) at 10:51 AM
Thursday, April 07, 2005
Here’s a recent story in the Bangkok Post about a seventeen year old Australian named Jesse Martin. I loved to sail when I was seventeen but growing up outside of Philadelphia meant that my time on the water centered around family vacations to Cape Cod and sojurns to my best friend’s beach house on Delaware Bay in Cape May, NJ (see the Hobie pitchpole post). As we all did, I had dreams but at that age...they did not include sailing alone around the world. Apparently Jesse, a modern day Robin Lee Graham, is made of sterner stuff. Martin began his voyage on the 33 foot S/V Lionheart on
"When there were things going wrong with school and family, I imagined myself on the ship and sailing off," said the young man, who was born while his parents were on a backpacking trip to Asia and Europe. He said that a love of travelling was instilled in him probably when he was in his mother's womb.
Posted by Zephyr (Sail) at 1:01 AM
Wednesday, April 06, 2005
Posted by Zephyr (Sail) at 12:07 PM
In this recent post about the 1885 schooner Coronet I mentioned Elizabeth Meyer. I've never met her but she was pointed out to me at a Newport cocktail party the summer I worked
Shamrock V was built in 1930 for Sir Thomas Lipton's fifth and last
America's Cup challenge. Lipton, a Scotsman, first challenged for the America's cup in 1899, with Shamrock I. He made five attempts to win the cup but never won. In 1930 Enterprise defeated the Nicholson-designed Shamrock V by as much as nine minutes. Sir T.O.M. Sopwith (a famous airplane designer in the First World War) purchased Shamrock V from Lipton in 1932 to gain experience in J Class racing. He challenged in 1933 and using his experience from Shamrock V, went on to build his challenger Endeavour - a 130-foot J Class sloop built by Camper & Nicholson at Gosport, England. In the 1934 cup race Endeavour was defeated by the NYYC's Rainbow in the best-of-seven match - a decisive victory for the Americans.
J-Class racing is a linchpin of
Posted by Zephyr (Sail) at 12:02 AM
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
Posted by Zephyr (Sail) at 10:31 AM
Everyone has a dream boat – the craft they see themselves sailing off into the sunset after all obligations are met. In the interim people my age (with obligations) satisfy themselves with kid-friendly one designs like a JBoat or, for cruisers, something like a Pearson or Island Packet built for sleeping bags and exploring local anchorages on summer weekends. But a big part of the culture of sailing is dreaming and we should all be allowed to indulge. On that note the new Friendship 40 is my “when I’m 60 years old and have sold my house for a condo on the beach, put the kids through college and want to go sailing” dream boat. Maybe by the time I’m that age I’ll be able to buy a used one at a (severely) reduced price because, like many dreams, she ain’t cheap. Yachting has a great review of her here. The Friendship 40 is designed by Ted Fontaine of the Fontaine Design Group. Ted used to be chief designer at Ted Hood Design Group, part of Little Harbor before The Hinckley Company absorbed it. I like the Friendship 40’s classic lines, her power sail handling (key for a 60 year old captain), the luxurious but minimal interior and the centerboard keel. Austral Yachts in
Posted by Zephyr (Sail) at 10:01 AM
Monday, April 04, 2005
Those who have sailed the SF Bay will testify to the swift and dangerous currents that can challenge any vessel (and don't run the waters near Fort Point unless you surf). A good friend I crewed for out of Sausalito sent me this link - a photographer caught a Santana 22 getting destroyed under the Golden Gate Bridge this past weekend. Click on the first photo to run the slideshow. Thankfully surfers pulled them to safety but the shots of the carnage are just amazing. Thank you Stevens!
Posted by Zephyr (Sail) at 2:28 PM
This topic isn't as sexy as billionaire bad boys dueling it out with their America's Cup toys, nor as thought provoking as discussing the lack of black folk in sailing...not as gripping as offshore voyaging, not as polarizing as red Mount Gay caps and probably not as much fun as discussing the top ten rums - but nonetheless I want to put a plug in for those who practice the art of classic yacht restoration. Specifically the IYRS in Newport, RI (International Yacht Restoration School). Newport is a sailing culture mecca, replete with organizations that pay homage to sailing history. But the IYRS has a special role in sailing culture - the preservation and restoration of the oldest and most original grand yacht in the world - S/V Coronet. Elizabeth Meyer is Coronet Project Manager & Founding Chair of IYRS. Take a read through the IYRS page here and a look at the Coronet home page. Truly an amazing piece of sailing history - a reminder that today we stand on the shoulders of many, many past sailors of equal or greater passion. It can be easy to loose this truth in the constant thunder of sailing hype...the latest hot shot pro, the newest rocket sled, the regatta-of-the-moment...
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Coronet is simply that she exists at all. The majority of yachts afloat during the last years of the 19th century have long since passed from view. Sunk, grounded, driven under, broken up, or simply fallen prey to old age, they are remembered now through photographs, mementos, models and the occasional holy relic, such as a wheel or binnacle.
Posted by Zephyr (Sail) at 12:05 AM
Friday, April 01, 2005
Posted by Zephyr (Sail) at 9:53 AM
Tremendous log entry in Yachting World from Paul Kelly, skipper of Team Save The Children. They're on leg four of the 2004/5 Global Challenge in the Southern Ocean and Paul's entry provides a nice window into the type of conditions many of us have read about, but few experienced. The 2004/5 Global Challenge is comprised of twelve teams sailing identical 72 foot steel yachts out of Portsmouth in the UK. Billed as the world's toughest yacht race, the course takes them around the world the 'wrong way', against the prevailing winds and currents, stopping in Buenos Aires, Wellington, Sydney, Cape Town, Boston and La Rochelle before returning to Portsmouth in the UK some 10 months later. On March 31 (yesterday) Team Save The Children were under 5 knots at sunrise. By 2000 last night a cold front swept through with 50 knots and lumpy seas. I've read many accounts of the roaring 40's, but each time I hear about sailors meeting the challenge I'm entranced. Having been in my fair share of rough conditions offshore I have a sense of what it must be like but the sheer hostility of the southern ocean environment must be very imposing. Here is another terrific entry from Eero Lehtinen, skipper of competitor SAIC La Jolla.
Posted by Zephyr (Sail) at 9:40 AM