Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Rebuilding the Redwing (go Shoe Shine)

A fellow wrote in the other day in response to my recent posting on the publication "Good Old Boat," saying, "I like Good Old Boat a lot, except for the articles where a guy tears down a Tanzer, including separating the deck from the hull and rebedding and rebuilding everything in between. Nothing against Tanzer, and nothing against boat rebuilds, but some boats just ain't worth the expense and hassle. Somehow though, these boats and articles find themselves into GOB. They did do a review of the C&C Redwing, though, the boat I am rebuilding now. GOB issue #10."

"Shoe-shine boy," is indeed rebuilding a C&C Redwing and has documented the project in his blog...good reading for those inclined to think they want to undertake a restore of a classic - or at least older - sailing yacht (does a boat built in 1970 now qualify as classic?). I have a deep respect for people who dedicate time and effort to such projects - they stand head and shoulders above the majority of us who'd rather buy something ready-to-sail or at least pay someone else to do the dirty work. Looking forward to her launch date Shoe and thanks for the comment!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Seawind F18 Worlds - February 19-25, 2007
Queensland, Australia (Photo credit: Andrea Francolini)

Monday, February 26, 2007

The Panic Threshold

If you didn't catch this the New York Times ran a story last week about the psychological aspects of solo sailing...with the angle that studying solo sailors can help find out how the human mind copes with life-threatening situations. The article opens with a vignette from Velux 5 Oceans solo sailor Bernard Stamm - who we learn is enduring 40-knot squalls with two hours of sleep to his name. The study is being run by psychologists for NASA, who say that the findings could benefit their astronaut-training program.

“A huge amount can be gleaned from these guys,” said Dr. Albert A. Harrison, an behavioral health adviser to NASA. “They are isolated, and under a tremendous amount of stress.”

All of this is very interesting but I really appreciated the following insight.

The lead sports psychologist at the University of Portsmouth, Dr. Neil Weston, said in a phone interview yesterday that the five sailors had a few common threads. “They all have a base mind-set that helps them react appropriately to disastrous situations,” Weston said. “Their panic threshold is higher than the average person.”

Anyone who has been in bad weather offshore...or even caught in a tough spot during a day sail...can relate to the idea of a "panic threshold." If you're going to be safe and in some cases, alive, you have to be certain that yours is high. I'd venture to say that the majority of sailing disasters are the result of panic (and sleeplessness). Makes sense that solo sailors have this in common.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Heineken History

Calling all winter weary boat's that time of year again. My hands down favorite Caribbean Regatta, the St. Maarten Heineken is nearly upon us. A bit of Zephyr lore...11 years ago in the spring of 1996 I attended my first Heineken. At the time I was living in St. Thomas USVI working as crew aboard day charter sailboats running out of Charlotte Amalie harbor. I'd moved off the derelict sailboat I'd been bunking on (for $50 a week) into a house on Water Island. One of the Water Island locals had a sister (Jacky) married to the Captain (Noddy) of a 77' maxi sailing yacht called Javelin. Captain Noddy was the former bowman aboard the Australian maxi yacht Kiaola II and had been recruited to command the Javelin by the owner, a terrific, long time sailor from Washington DC by the name of Larry Bulman.

In any event, Noddy was looking for able bodies to round out of the crew for the regatta. I was invited through my connection, flew down to St. Maarten on Liat for four days and had the best time of my life. It took 22 crew to race the Javelin around the buoys and at night we all went out together for dinner courtesy of Larry, drank until the wee hours and got up in the morning and did it again under perfect skies and 20 knots true. I was hooked! Thus began a multi year love affair with Javelin that culminated in my job aboard as first mate for roughly 14 months...a sweet spot of life when I was in my 20's that now, chained to a desk with a family to support, I find myself hearkening back to quite regularly...

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

JJ Giltinan

JJ Giltinan Trophy 2007 - February 16-25
Sydney, Australia (Photo credit Christophe Favreau)

How many of you have heard of the JJ Giltinan Trophy? how many of you have heard about the Australian 18 Footers League? If you answer "no" to both of these questions (I did) then you probably live somewhere beside Down Under (and/or Europe). The Australian 18 Footers League was founded in 1935 and is the Australian representative body to the International 18ft Skiff Association. Mr. James J. Giltinan was the League's first Secretary and had a trophy designed for a World's Championship for the class in 1938. It was named - not suprisingly - the J.J. Giltinan Trophy and to this day is the premier 18ft Skiff prize.

Another fact I didn't know - the birth of 18ft Skiff Racing (as we know it today) occurred on Sydney Harbour on 26 January 1892. The father of the 18ft Skiff was a local businessman named Mark Foy. You can read about Mark's efforts here. His original idea has morphed somewhat but it still looks wicked fast.

I love it that the more I know about sailing the more I don't know...and the more I learn.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Wauquiez Pilot Saloon 41

To Pilot House or Not (to Pilot House)

Cruising World magazine is running a review of the new Wauquiez Pilot Saloon 41. I've always been a fan of the Centurion 40s and, in fact, advanced so far in my lust as to actually contact a broker and order the marketing action that did little to endear me to my wife who wondered, quite rightly, if I'd gone insane. But back to the Pilot Saloon 41. My jury is still out on sloops with pilot saloons. I've been offshore enough to get why one might welcome a dry comfy pilot house perch. And as the Cruising World review notes, "...the object of the pilot-saloon concept is to avoid the cavelike feeling of traditional boat interiors by providing a panoramic view of the horizon, not just of the sky, for anyone in the saloon, nav station, or galley."

Sure - you get more light and a better view of the wharf rats at dock. But these boats look so damn dumpy, in my humble opinion. And what about lying on your back in a bunk and staring up at the blue sky through deck hatch...a wind scoop funneling the fresh sea air across your body? What about letting your eye sweep the clean line of a flush deck? Sorry Wauquiez...I won't be calling for the Pilot House 41 brochure (to the relief of my wife).

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Stuck in Tampa

Speaking of Florida the 2007 Miami International Boat Show and Strictly Sail Miami kicks off this weekend. The weather is turning cold down here (yes, still here...this is my 28th hour in the Tampa airport trying to fly into NYC) which is likely to impact attendance but, as boat shows go, this is the big daddy with more than 2,200 exhibitors. Strictly Sail is the portion our sort would prefer for prime hull thumping...the larger boat show is very stinkpot oriented.

My boat show experiences are mostly limited to Annapolis...I understand why they appeal to the masses but honestly spending a day throwing elbows with the over 145,000 attendees in Miami while marveling at all the things I want but can't afford sounds like a downer. What do you think? Boat shows...are they tremendous fun or a drag? Certainly the rum drinks at the Annapolis show (Pussers Painkillers) are a help. Ones relative poverty (as juxtaposed with a $750,000 yacht) is always born better with a buzz.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Good Old Boat

Hopefully flying back from Tampa to NYC later today after a few days down here on business. I actually like the part of Florida that's by the water...last night we went for dinner in Clearwater Beach and on the way passed through the town of Dunedin - which was, I later learned, was the boyhood home of sailboat designer John G. Hanna, who designed the Tahiti ketch. I stopped at a bookstore on the way back to the hotel and picked up a boating magazine I'd never seen or heard of before...."Good Old Boat"which bills itself as, The Sailing Magazine for the Rest of Us. The magazine was launched a decade ago by Jerry Powlas and Karen Larson who consider themselves just "sailors down the dock" who have turned their passion for sailing into one of the most respected and read sailing publications in the industry. I'd never read it but after thumbing through the current issue I could see the appeal. The articles are thorough and well written. It's not as flashy as SAIL or Cruising World...which is somewhat refreshing actually. I give it an "under the radar" thumbs up. Not bad for a dead tree pub...

Monday, February 12, 2007

Grenada Sailing Festival 2007
St. Georges, Grenada, West Indies
(Photo credit Onne van der Wal)

Bluewater Blogs

Looks like Cruising World has taken to calling out sailing bloggers. Here's a jump to a blurb on voyager Cathy Harris' "bluewater" blog titled "Sonadora Adventures" For some reason CW chose to focus on a post about her sea sicknessb...ut I might have mentioned all of the excellent photos that complement her sojurns. I've long been a fan of any readers have favorite "Bluewater Blogs?' They've certainly developed into a distinct category of sailing blogdom and probably represent the fastest growing segment, by far.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Under the Weather

I'm down for the count with one of the worst bugs I've had in years and the fever is making it difficult to concentrate on please sit tight and I'll be back in force soon. I haven't felt this bad since I caught a bad run of dengue fever post-hurricane in St. Thomas.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Eight Bells

An old friend of mines uncle passed away this past Sunday. He was quite a sailor and had a long history with boats and boating. His collegue Greg Matzat, President, Sparkman & Stephens, wrote to Scuttlebutt about Mitch Gibbons-Neff and they ran it under the "Eight Bells" heading. Full obit below...

Mitchell C. Gibbons-Neff passed away Sunday, February 4, 2007 due to complications from lung cancer. Born on May 4, 1941, Mitch grew up on the family farm in Maryland and was introduced to sailing by his parents. He received a Bachelors Degree in Geology from Franklin & Marshall College and joined the U.S. Navy in 1963. He was an Engineering Officer aboard the U.S.S. SALUTE, a minesweeper, and the Officer in Charge of a Swift boat in Vietnam. When he returned home, Mitch went to Harvard Business School for an M.B.A. He then spent two years working in the Pacific Northwest as a project engineer for a heavy construction firm.

In 1971, Mitch went to work for Palmer Johnson as a salesman and in 1973 he co-founded Nautor, USA. In 1977, Mitch showed up at Sparkman & Stephens for an interview. As Mitch told the story, after meeting with the company's managing broker, Mitch was told the company would get back to him - Mitch asked if an empty desk outside the manager's office was being used by anyone and when told "no", said he would be there the next day to start. In 1985, Mitch became President of Sparkman & Stephens. Mitch was a member of the New York Yacht Club and served on the Club's Model Committee. He was also a member of the Noroton Yacht Club, the Cruising Club of America, and the Storm Trysail Club. Mitch was an active supporter of the Mystic Seaport Museum and the SEA Education Association.

Mitch's life was boats and family. He was a great seaman and shipmate. When sailing offshore with Mitch onboard you always knew that whatever happened, you would get back safely. A highlight of Mitch's sailing career was the 1972 transatlantic race from Bermuda to Bayona, Spain aboard his family's 40-ft boat, PRIM. Mitch was the navigator and PRIM won her class and came in second overall. Mitch competed in 20 Newport to Bermuda races, the first when he was 14 years old.

Mitch didn't have clients, he had friends. He enjoyed helping others with a passion for boats and his success was a result of his honesty and directness. He held nothing back when talking about boats. He made us all laugh with his quotes like: "Whatever happened to cotton sails", "You're not old enough to have a bow thruster" and when talking about S&S's brokerage and design businesses "the only thing scarier than a sailor with a gun is a broker with an architect's scale."

Mitch is survived by his two sons, TM and Paul, his father Morton, his brothers Morton, Peter and Henry and his many nephews and nieces. Mitch will be laid to rest at a private family service. A memorial service for friends is being organized and details will follow. Memorial contributions may be made to the SEA Education Association.

Mitch also used to say "Don't worry about me, the good guys go first." Mitch, you were a "good guy". We will miss you. -- Greg Matzat, President, Sparkman & Stephens

Monday, February 05, 2007

Sailing in Terror

It's too bad it took the tragedy of 9/11 to awaken most of us in the U.S. to a reality that the rest of the world has lived for many years...terrorism stalks the globe in many forms but some of the most deadly and notorious are the Basque separatists (known as the ETA) from northern Spain. The Sydney News Herald is reporting that a suspected member of ETA planned to gather information on installations for the America's Cup sailing competition in the eastern port city of Valencia...with a view to a possible bomb attack. I'll leave the details to the article but terror and sailing don't, to my knowledge, have much of a history...aside from the occasional run-in with modern day pirates (mostly off the coasts of poorer countries) and, of course, the terror of a gale at 3:00 AM in the middle of the ocean - which can be somwhat mitigated by a well found vessel and a steady, well rested crew. It's not suprising, though somewhat sad, to discover that the reality of terrorism has invaded nearly every aspect of modern life and that sailing is no exception.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Sea Too Vast for Man, Machine

Rough day at work and the little girl has been up with a bad cold two nights in a row...excuses for the brevity of today's post.

After covering more than 40,000 square miles of California coastal waters - the U.S. Coast Guard has called off the search for 63-year-old Jim Gray...who left on a solo sail last week to scatter the ashes of his 97-year old mother.

And here's something that might be better suited for of a new sportboat, the Laser SB3. Says the article, "The new Laser SB3 is a fast and exhilarating three man Sportsboat with a powerful modern rig. The boat has amazing stability and a clean uncluttered cockpit that gives the three crew members enthusiastic racing in comfort, without the aches of highly physical sailing."

Without the aches? Now that's innovation!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

On the Bow

St Barth's Bucket Regatta 2006
(Photo Credit: Onne Van der Wal)