Sunday, December 31, 2006

Michael Perham Will Be Youngest to Cross Pond Alone

Here's a sailing story to end 2006 on a high note...according to this feature in the Daily Mail, 14-year old Michael Perham is set to become the youngest person to sail solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Though Michael's father, Peter, 47, a chartered surveyor and experienced yachtsman, is following two miles behind his son and keeping in regular radio contact...the boy has handled everything that's come his way from fierce line squalls to the doldrums and a Christmas holiday spent floating in the open ocean alone. The teenager, from land-locked Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, set off from Gibraltar on the 3,500-mile voyage to the Caribbean on November 18 aboard the 28-ft yacht, Cheeky Monkey. He hopes to reach Antigua, and break the world record for the youngest unaided sailor across the ocean, on New Years Day.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Wild Oats XI Victorious

The Sydney-Hobart offshore race was certainly true to her nature...within 48 hours of the start two yachts have dismasted (Maximus and ABN Amro One), six crew members were injured and a total of eight boats were forced to retire.

The official Rolex site for the race is carrying news of a Wild Oats victory. Declares the latest update...the Australian maxi Wild Oats XI has taken back-to-back line honours wins in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, the first since 1964 and only the sixth time in the event’s 62 year history.

Wild Oats XI, owned by Bob Oatley and skippered by Mark Richards, crossed the finish line of the 628 nautical mile race at Hobart’s Castray Esplanade at 9:52pm tonight giving her an elapsed time of 2 days 8 hours 52 minutes and 33 seconds.

Navigator Adrienne Cahalan said that a crucial decision early in the race was whether to go offshore to pick up the current and stronger winds or stay closer to the coast where the seas were flatter but potentially there was less wind.

“We opted to go inshore and stay out of the current which meant staying out of the big waves and just looking after the boat for the first night. That’s what we did and it paid dividends."

The Superyacht Cup 2006 - December 13-16
Nelson's Dockyard, Antigua (Photo credit: Amory Ross)

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


EVK4 - here is a copy of my reply to your recent comment made nearly seven months after my May 2006 post “Consider the BN
The explanation for why you removed the link to Zephyr from your EVK4 blog is disappointing - all the more so because I consider us "colleagues" (in a manner of speaking), given our choice of subject matter and the consistency of our postings over the past two years.

As well, I think it demonstrates more than a little sanctimony on your part to censure me for one lone post amongst nearly two years of writing.

The term "BN" - in my mind - is fair game for discussion as a part of the broader sailing lexicon. And isn't discussion a central point of all of this? If you have something to say, then say it, EVK4. Give vent to your self-righteousness in the aptly named "Leave Your Comment" tool ;-)
I agree that the term can be construed as offensive...but that doesn't make it less real. Is your point that we are we to shut out all things that offend us?

It's your blogroll and your choice...but know that the link to the EVK4 Blog on Zephyr stays in place. Dark will be the day that I excise you because I disagree with something you say, or find your topic matter offensive. I’ll let you know my thoughts face-to-face – like I’m doing now – as I strive to take a direct and open approach...and hopefully resist the urge to be condemning, censorious and retaliatory.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Beware the Two Ton Leaping Sunfish

Sailing, like any sport that involves exposure to the elements, can be hazardous to your health. We routinely hear stories of people being washed overboard by waves, hit in the head with a boom, threatened by sharks, struck by lightning, run over by the this story in the Aussie Age should provide a bit of levity in what otherwise is a grim review of the dangers at sea. According to the article, ICHI Ban skipper Matt Allen was smacked in the face by a flying fish during last year's Rolex Trophy Series. And by the way, sunfish, which can weigh up to 5000 pounds will cause serious damage...collisions are common. Said Allen, "All of a sudden, I was just laid flat on the deck. I didn't see anything coming at me...I opened my eyes and there was this enormous flying fish. It had jumped straight out of the water and hit me. There was blood everywhere but fortunately most of it was his."

Monday, December 25, 2006

Thursday, December 21, 2006

All I Want for Christmas is an Island Anchorage

As we head into the holiday weekend it's true that - in the sailing world - not everyone will be hanging their stockings with care above a crackling yule fire. At one extreme you have my Caribbean cruising parents who have made Antigua recently after a long slog upwind from St. Maarten. They're currently anchored in Falmouth Harbor with plans to move to the yacht basin at the Mill Reef Club later today. Not feeling sorry for them. Then at the other end we have the professional offshore racing sailors readying themselves for next week's Sydney to Hobart race. According to this article the weather report for the start is grim, with strong southerlies for the first few days of the race predicted. So if you're in my neck of the wood (Northeastern U.S.) and find yourself longing for a still distant 2007 sailing season try not to envy my folks (and their ilk)...and be glad you're not dogging the cold, nasty midnight watch aboard ABN-AMRO.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Lex Lian takes a romping virtual sail...note the perfect weather, warm southerly breeze at 20 knots, of course.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Soak of a Windward Beat or...Reality Bites

Here's a jump to an article in the Portsmouth Herald written by a "boat carpenter" who trained for the trade expecting, "...hand tools with sharp blades and materials like bronze, leather, canvas, and sweat." As anyone who has spent even a little time in a modern boatyard knows, these days you're most likely to, as the author puts it, spend your time, "staggering around wearing sticky rubber gloves and disposable body-suits with a respirator..." The old expectation vs. reality equation - an equal opportunity cliche but one that dovetails with sailing quite nicely. The newly arrived yacht owner who expected leisurely daysails to quiet, pristine coves for undisturbed picnic lunches. His inaugural cruise turns into a nail biting, soak of a windward beat to a rocky anchorage crowded with obnoxious power boaters. The cooler shipped sea water and they ate soggy sandos and sipped bottled water in a cloud of diesel fuel. The anchor? Stuck on the bottom.

The young 20-something kid who in 1994 signed aboard to be yacht charter crew expecting huge tips, nonstop sailing, swooning stewardesses and adventure in the Leeward Islands. Remind me to give you the reality check one of these days. I could (should) write a book!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Closing out 2006 - More Voices Than Ever

The end of the year is nigh and possibly Proper Course - the literal "Granddaddy" of sailing bloggers - is readying his list of the 2006 top ten sailing blogs. I was privileged to make the 2005 list but now...almost two years (and 600 plus posts) after I began writing about sailing under the "Sailing Culture for Voyagers, Zealots, Poets and Populists" tagline, new voices are popping up nearly every week. This obviously means that competition for readers is increasingly fierce…though hopefully their numbers are growing as well. But I hardly begrudge the competition. I've no advertising to sell and recieve nothing other than the satisfaction of writing about my passion for sailing, connecting with a like-minded community & having the chance to contribute. So while I hope I make the "Top Ten" cut this year, no hard feelings if I'm crowded out. It's been extremely satisfying to watch the whitespace fill in and to realize that together we make a strong and viable alternative to more traditional sailing media. As we close out 2006 I think that this collective accomplishment is something to recognize. I can't wait to see what happens in 2007!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Mumm 30 World Championship - 11/29-12/2
Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo credit: Walter Cooper)

Friday, December 15, 2006

Endeavour's New Master

Back in September I wrote about Kozlowski, the former chief executive officer of Tyco International Ltd., selling his yacht, the J/Class beauty Endeavour. According to recent news reports the new owner is Cassio Antunes, a 44-year old resident of Hawaii. He has plans to refit the boat and race her out of the Cayman Islands. Nobody seems to know what the guy actually does or did to make his loot...not that it really matters as long as he has plenty of it. If owning a regular old sailboat is like standing in a shower with all your clothes on ripping up $100 bills then imagine owning the Endeavour ;-)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

I was chatting with my new friend RJ Kikuchiyo the other day as he was helping me fix seams on my house at "The Dunes" and mentioned the sad news of Laura Gainey's death by rougue wave. He knows a couple of the crew currently aboard the tall ship Picton Castle and, as well, is a fan of the barques home port Lunenburg, in Nova Scotia, Canada. I've heard of Lunenburg in passing... but RJ spoke highly of it so I decided to do some research. Surrounded by water, the coastal village is nestled between Lunenburg "Front" and "Back" Harbours, on a steep hillside facing south. The town was founded by German, English, French and Swiss immigrant farmers who, it is said, through necessity, time and determination became some of the world's finest seamen and shipbuilders. Picton Castle is part of a robust tall ship fleet based out of Lunenburg - which includes a replica of Canada's most famous tall ship, Bluenose - the Bluenose II.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Screaming downwind off Cuttyhunk in the New England Sim

Monday, December 11, 2006

Laura Gainey RIP

I've posted on rougue waves before though despite logging thousands of offshore miles I've yet to encounter one...unfortunate news crossed the wire this weekend concerning 25-year-old Canadian native Laura Gainey, who was swept off the tall ship Picton Castle this past Friday night - she was on the aft deck when they were slammed by a 25 foot plus wave roughly 475 miles southeast of Cape Cod, MA. Last word is that the U.S. Coast Guard has called off the search - estimating she would be able to survive about 36 hours, based on factors including her age, her physical fitness and the water temperature of 22C. According to reports, the ship has circumnavigated the globe four times. The crew of 29 consists of 10 professional sailors and 19 unpaid trainees who sign on to gain sailing experience. Laura was the lead seaman in charge of trainees on her watch during the current voyage.

Who hasn't peered into the dark swirling water rushing past on a midnight watch and wondered, with a shiver, what it would be like to be watching the dim lights of your boat recede, leaving you to contemplate the horrifying prospect of discovering exactly how long you can tread water. God rest the soul of Laura Gainey.

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.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Where I Dock My (Virtual) Yacht

It was 19 degrees above zero when I got in my car to go to work this AM. Unlike some of my sailing blogger colleagues, I'm not really into frost biting. All those years in the Caribbean must have thinned the blood. But luckily the weather is always fine in's a bird's eye view of my new ocean front estate on the East End in the New England sim...I've nicknamed it "The Dunes" in honor of Gerald and Sara Murphy's Hamptons retreat of old. Want to read more about the brains behind this beautiful land/seascape? Then check out an interview with co-founder Barb Carson. Barb and with her partner Montecore Babcock (with the help of designer/builder RJ Kikuchiyo) have created a virtual sailing haven par excellence! Living well is the best revenge.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

SkySail Redux Redux

I've written about the "SkySail" over the past year or so - at time with skeptisim, it's true. I believe at one point I had a comment posted from one of the executives insisting that it was real, yes, actual oceangoing freighters would employ what amounts to a giant spinnaker. And it seems that it has or will shortly come to's an account in The Scotsman that opines, "After four years of tests, it is anything but a pie-in-the-sky project." Maybe so. But the natural questions is, what happens in a broach?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Man Bites Dog

Cruising World is running a story "Mega-Yacht Rescues Distressed ARC Crew - Rescued captain suffers from mental problems" on a rescue-at-sea the luxury sailing yacht Mirabella V (charters for 300K a week) enacted 300 miles from Cape Verde Islands...the Mirabella V recieved a distress call from the S/V Compromise, a 32' sloop taking part in the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers. The ARC is an annual transatlantic rally starting each November in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and claims to be the largest transocean sailing event in the world. In any event, the story gives a detailed viewpoint as recounted by David Dawes, the captain of Mirabella interesting if not terribly dramatic account of the rescue that leaves the reader puzzled as to exactly what mental distress the captain of the Compromise suffered from. Why did he issue a Mayday? Was it bad weather, a mental breakdown, off his meds? Was he crazy for going to sea in an unfit vessel? I can't help but wonder why Cruising World is passing this off as a news story...there's no context or any supporting details whatsoever. And hence no story...

Monday, December 04, 2006

Mumm 30 World Championship
November 29-December 2, 2006
(Photo credit: Walter Cooper)

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Even When the Sun is Shining

When I moved to St. Thomas U.S.V.I. in the mid 1990's with the intent of being crew-for-hire in pursuit of my U.S. Coast Guard Captain's license, my first job was barback for a now long gone outfit called "Schooners Landing" at the former Ramada Yacht Haven Marina in Charlotte Amalie. It was a good vantage with which to infiltrate the local boatie community and, as well, made me instantly part of a large and boisterous group of young people who lived on the boats in the harbour and worked either in food service or for one of the small businesses in the marina. I shortly graduated from barback to waiter/bartender and after a few months landed my first sailing job as crew for day charter sailing boats. The captains of these boats were all liveaboards with yachts shipshape enough to entertain and the desire to make a little money from the cruise ship company for the privilege taking their cruise passengers out for four hours of sailing and a quick snorkle. In the nearly a year I served as mate on a number of these boats I'm happy to say we never had a problem or an accident - though I did have one fat, balding hairy guy throw a panic attack on the snorkle and nearly drown me. I felt very thankful to have never been aboard for a disaster when I read this story on a mast on a commercial tour catamaran off Waikiki snapping and pinning a passenger between the top deck and the cabin this past Friday. Tragically, a teenage boy was killed and two women badly injured. It's a reminder that the potential for injury and death aboard boats is very real - even when the sun is shining and the wind is light.