To almost no one’s surprise, Francis Joyon managed to add the NYC-Lizard Transatlantic record to his impressive solo sailing trophy cabinet (which already housed the 24-hour record, the East-West Transatlantic record, and the biggest and most important of all, the RTW solo record).
It can be counted as mildly surprising, given that he was trailing Thomas Coville’s 2008 reference time for a good chunk of the course as he rode a southerly depression that took him off the Great Circle route, that he smashed the record by such a massive margin, besting Colville in the end by 16 hours, 34 minutes (that’s about a 12 percent jump in performance).
Here’s the breakdown:
Total time: 5 days 2 hours 56 minutes 10 seconds
Average speed over the 2,865 nautical mile course: 23.3 knots
Average speed through the water (3,222 miles sailed): 26.2 knots
Here’s Joyon carefully crossing the finish:
Once in port, the taciturn, actions-speak-louder-than-words, Frenchman managed a few observations regarding his voyage. On the route, and the southerly depression that in the end went the right way for him, he noted:
“ The depression could have a little more northern route, so a little shorter. Or otherwise further south, which would have been catastrophic. Finally, we found a compromise that suited us. Small advantage to the southern route is that there was no threat of icebergs on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, and I had less fog than in my previous record. That said, enjoying a similar depression on a more direct route north, could earn at least half a day .”
Perhaps the hardest question for Joyon to answer would have been: what do you do next? Pretty much the only records anyone cares about that aren’t already his are the various Pacific crossing records. But those are half a world away from France. So maybe Joyon will simply rest on his laurels, being feted and toasted by his sailing-savvy homeland, until another solo sailor manages to force him back out on the seas to reclaim one of his many records.
Charlie is excited for a couple of sailing movies. I’ve got a really short one that he might like.
Both he and I have long followed the unpredictable and interesting life of Hans Klaar (here, here and here). Klaar is currently on the Portuguese coast, planning to sail his self-built catamaran, Ontong Java, up some rivers as he heads north and beyond. He’s looking for someone to sail with him, so if you are game for an unusual summer internship, email me here.
Here’s Klaar’s description of what he is after: “So if you do know of anyone who would like to do a spot of river and costal excursions in this region of Old Europe, if they are fit, from now till september, then send them to me. Could be interesting over all. Just spare me the wannabes and sleepy heads.”
If you want to get a sense of the vessel involved, here’s a clip of Ontong Java doing her thing that Klaar sent me: “Look no hands! Hahaha. Did 189 miles that day on my way to Portugal from the Azores. You will see that there is no one steering.”
FRIDAY THE 14TH (June 2013) is a date that no doubt will live infamously in the memories of the owner of this 80-foot Jongert 2400M that was utterly and completely destroyed by fire at Prickly Bay in Grenada late last week. (Unless, of course, this is an insure-and-burn situation…) According to a bluewater cruiser named Mark, who took this series of photos from aboard his Beneteau 393 Sea Life, the fire is believed to have started behind an electrical panel and raged for over eight hours. Grenadian authorities responded promptly, but weren’t able to do much, as their boats carried no working pumps.
This is where the (presumably carbon) rig comes down…
The hull is aluminum, so there is something left afloat…
You can see more pix at Mark’s blog site.
The toasted boat was named Uisge Beatha (“water of life” or whiskey, as it is called in Scotland) and was built by Jongert just three years ago for a Scottish owner.
This is what she looked like just before she was launched. There’s a similar boat listed for sale on Yachtworld right now, with an asking price of over $5 million, which gives an idea of the size of the insurance claim. Here are some pix of that boat’s interior:
The fabulous deck saloon…
Some sleeping quarters…
The engine compartment…
It is a little hard to believe that a yacht this fancy and sophisticated didn’t have an effective fire suppression system onboard. Luckily, no one was injured in the blaze.
Last night was Family Movie Night. We don’t do it often, but Grannie had taken a stroll through the local used DVD emporium, and sent us Ghostbusters as part of a care package. And who can say no to that?
As the film started and books started floating through the library, Indy pasted herself to my side and Erik and I shared a look. I suddenly remembered that a few of the ghosts in the film were pretty scary. I had misgivings; I did not want to induce a Gremlins reaction.
I come from a family of four kids. I stand first in line at slot #1. My youngest brother runs sweep six years and three positions later. As the youngest, he was no doubt expected to do and see things that I never would have been allowed near at the same age. Sometime in the late eighties, we convinced my parents to rent Gremlins. We popped the VHS in the machine and enjoyed the delicious combination of cute & cuddly / deliciously scary.
Except for #4. Who was maybe six. And had Gremlins nightmares from that night until approximately forever.
Time for some quality parenting, aka backpedalling. “There might be a few scary guys in this movie,” I said to the girls. “But you know that none of it is real, and I promise it all turns out fine, okay?” I patted myself on the back. Good job, Mom. Butt covered.
By now, Stylish was glued to me as well. The tension built. And the first scary ghost appeared.
Stylish laughed and peeled away. “What? You thought that was scary? Mom.” Indy, perhaps having more faith in my warning, stayed close. But she didn’t even say a peep when people started turning into dogs.
In the morning, a well-rested Indy bounded into bed with us. “Mom! Dad! I had the greatest dream! It was about Slimer and the Staypuft Marshmallow Man and it was so funny!“ So the kids sat down and made Slimer figures, complete with moveable arms.I ain’t afraid of no ghost.
All of this might lead you to conclude: “Kids these days. So jaded. Civilized society coming crashing down, etc. [/hellinahandbasketrant] And you would be wrong.
Which brings me around to the photos at the top of this post. Once upon a time, my kids had a lemonade stand. Theirs was the sole lemonade stand I ever saw in our neighbourhood, maybe because people don’t walk enough anymore, maybe because their parents were too busy to supervise, maybe because such an enterprise is now socially unacceptable for reasons I don’t know about and don’t care to. Anyway. Their idea, I set them up, they made a bundle and met lots of nice neighbours, I shut them down, the end.
But a lemonade stand won’t work in the boatyard. Too cold, not enough customers, no lemonade. Hmm, what to do. What do cruisers need? And the lightbulb went on. A handwashing station. I’ll let Stylish explain:
The kids have spent the entire day on this. They built a station, handed out advertisements to other boats and the office, and shouted out encouragement to non-existent passersby like career carnies.
And the yard came.Let me help you, dear sir.
This was a free service, entirely for fun. No compensation requested or expected. But they made friends anyway, and even got invited to bake on another boat. Apparently, croissants will be delivered later on.
So. The kids may be blase about lame special effects from the eighties, but anyone who can spend such a good day when left to their own devices can grow up and run my country any day.Handwashers!
Written by Ben Ellison on Jun 17, 2013 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub
Any boater with an iPad has an amazing selection of apps these days, and the Android selection isn’t bad either. For some time I’ve meant to catch up on interesting new charting entries like SEAiq and SeaNav plus major improvements in category leaders like Navionics Mobile, C-Map Plan2Nav, and Garmin BlueChart Mobile. (And also clever ideas like SARMOB, which can turn multiple smartphones into an active man overboard system, and Boat Battery, which can help us figure out our electrical appetites and share specific device power profiles.) But today I’m going to focus entirely on the spanking new Nobeltec TimeZero iPad app, because I think it’s amazing…
I haven’t actually cruised with the TimeZero app yet but I was able to preview it before it made the iTunes store last week and, as the top screen indicates, I have already seen its excellent (Bad Elf Pro powered) tracking while underway in car and dinghy. The “most advanced marine navigation App for iPad on the market” claim is quite bold, and I always tend to think that such judgments are quite subjective, but TZ is remarkably able and polished right out of the gate. And while there are lots of valuable charting features it doesn’t support — more on that further down the entry — I’m not sure there’s another app that does core navigation so beautifully.
When I recently raved about Furuno TZT chart plotting I had no idea that so much of the experience could be transferred to an iPad. But the same MaxSea developers who seem to be behind all the TZ products (including their own version of the TZ app eventually) certainly pulled it off. It’s not just that some of the same MapMedia charts along with PhotoFusion sat images blend, zoom, pan, and go 3D in the same smooth manner, though that’s huge. The app developers also manages to include much of the plotter control and route-making sophistication you’ll see on the high-end TZ displays and PC programs, and make them very easy to use on an iPad.
I sometime get frustrated with many charting apps because they’re missing some route functions and/or the functions are hard to manage with a finger tip. Touchscreen object picking is tricky business and I’m probably more demanding than most because I’m currently using an iPad mini and Dupuytren’s contracture has some my fingers pretty crooked up (in fact, I’m going in for more surgery later today and may not be typing well for a while). But picking routes, waypoints, and marks on the TZ screen always seems easy and I always seem to find whatever option I might need.
There’s also a route management feature I’ve never seen before but just love. Instead of having a route list that may be indecipherable unless you’ve taken the time to name the routes (if possible), they collapse when not in use into that blue ship wheel icon seen on the screen above, just north of R “2″. If I stopped using the activated route on that screen it too would shrink into a similar icon at the starting waypoint and clicking on either would expand it. You can choose whether the dormant route icons live at the first or last waypoint. So slick!
The Nobeltec TZ app can also overlay tide and current icons if you want, though I don’t think that there’s a way to see more detail, like maximum heights or speeds, or future predictions (like you can on a TZT). The weather feature is also lightweight, only showing local conditions with a hint of what’s coming (sunny with less wind on the screen above). But do note the land and reef detail in that PhotoFusion image of St. John’s south shore…
The TZ app is free but the North American, Western European, and Mediterranean charts you can buy within are not (region maps here, prices $40 to $50). Once you’ve bought access, though, managing chart downloads and iPad space is dead simple, even elegant. What I’m not sure of is the quality of photo maps outside the U.S. and also how deeply they are cached for use when your device is offline. I did some experimenting and the photo maps I’d looked at while planning and armchair cruising were definitely there when I shut the WiFi off , but I’d like to know more about how that works.
The screen above shows many of the advanced tweaks a TZ user can apply by either “peeling” back the chart page or dipping into the menu categories. I like having those controls, but don’t be alarmed; the app is quite easy to use without any tweaking. On the other hand, there are many current chart app features you won’t see on that screen, like support of cruising or fishing info (ActiveCaptain, Navionics UGC, etc) or NMEA input of data like wind, depth, and AIS (which is getting quite easy in numerous apps thanks to Navico GoFree and other WiFi intermediaries). I don’t think there’s even a way to share routes or tracks with friendly humans or machines, which seems especially sad as TZ is so good at making them. Then again, it is version #1!
But don’t take my word for any of this. If you have an iPad2 or better (i.e. one running IOS 6) the free app comes with charts of Miami and a demo mode that lets you make and follow routes. Try it! I’m especially hoping that other charting app developers will check it out ;-) Plus those who are skeptical about 3D chart plotting but haven’t gotten even a demo sense of what it’s like underway. Just tap that little 3D button or, better yet, try two finger vertical swipes, just like a Furuno TZT. Please don’t blame me, though, if you end up buying a chart region, a TZ computer program, or maybe even a big hunk of hardware.
This morning we hiked up to the top of the hill where the cemetery and the big white cross that go with it lord over the town. Headstones just sort of crawled all over the rocky hilltops in every direction. Makes one wonder if you simply go up there and dig your own when a loved one dies or if there actually is someone in charge.
We were walking out of the marina with the kids in hand when a security guard suddenly wished me a Happy Father’s Day. “Hoy?” I asked. Today? “Si. Si.” We had no clue. We are a marketers worst nightmare.
The other day the boat smelled like dead fish/sulfur/crappy blocked up head. Being as we’re in a marina amidst a fishing fleet we leaned towards dead fish. The next morning the smell was still there, and when I went up on deck it wasn’t. I had to admit the smell was coming from inside. I went below, checked the toilet hoses and checked the holding tank—thank you, thank you, thank you, this was not the source.
Eventually my nose led me to the couch, which doubles as our kitchen table seating, which means Lowe and Ouest drop three out of four bites of food there. I thought I’d find some putrefying scrambled eggs and we’d be done. But I didn’t find eggs, and when I got down on hands and knees I found the smell was coming from underneath the couch. I opened things up and continued letting my nose lead the way right up until I heard the fizzing/bubbling noise coming from one of our house batteries. One-hundred and five amp hours of West Marine gel cell technology was bulging and hissing. I put my hand on the battery and recoiled instantly—it was burning hot. I hid my face behind a cushion and blindly removed the battery cables. I covered the seat back up and let things cool down for a few hours before finally removing it. I carried it up—still hissing—next to the dumpster until I could ask the office where I should bring it or if they could take care of it for me. Twenty minutes later it was gone. Some local Mexican family probably repaired it somehow and are now running their entire home off of it.
I’ve no real idea why a battery does that, or if it was really toast because of it, but either way we’re now out 1/6th of our battery storage capacity. Not a big deal really. I’m not even sure that I’ll bother replacing it. Big battery banks are nice to have but ultimately unnecessary if the boat has a decent charging system—which ours doesn’t, but should have by the end of the summer.
Spent a hot day drinking aguas frescas and trying to stay in the shade.
Well, we are finally getting a hint of what the real deal might look like. Luna Rossa and Team Emirates New Zealand just sailed an America’s Cup “race” course, going head to head, the first time two AC72s have lined up in San Francisco and raced an America’s Cup course.
Here’s what it looked like:
You have to take into account this is edited video, set to music, so it is a highlight reel.
On the plus side: the boats look pretty cool together, and you can feel the adrenaline when they are foiling side by side.
On the minus side: you can see that the cameraman and editors had to work to put the two boats in the same shot, suggesting there was often quite a bit of water separating them around the track.
Perhaps this extended version of the same action, shot by John Navas (who is cranking out good video to his YouTube channel), gives you a more honest sense of what the action is really like:
Navas also has a nice extended video of Oracle Team USA and Emirates Team New Zealand out practicing. Go to the 16:50 mark if you want to see ETNZ pull off the Holy Grail of AC72 boathandling: a fully foiling gybe.
Now contrast that with this video of Team Oracle USA finding foiling slightly more challenging:
Having (almost) all the AC72s out on San Francisco Bay is taking the preparation for the imminent America’s Cup racing up a big notch. It’s still too early to know for sure what AC72 match racing will ultimately deliver in terms of excitement and sailing drama. But with all the video pouring out on YouTube we know a lot more this week than we did last week.
We had Chinese food yesterday because we had a hankering for some Lo Mein and spring rolls. Rule #1, when you enter a Chinese restaurant, if the person taking your order is not Chinese, leave. We didn’t follow the rules, therefore Ali spent the night throwing up spring rolls from as far back as La Paz. Mexican Slimfast.
We have a saying around Bumfuzzle, tongue-in-cheek, “Do I look happy?” It’s usually accompanied by a really over-the-top frown and the kids doing something especially dangerous regarding climbing lifelines. The kids always laugh and say, “Yep.”
Today, since I took the kids out alone, I was able to put them in moderately dangerous photographic poses while asking, “Do you think Mama would be happy?”
I’m continually amazed by the fact that we can just wander freely through this old smelting plant. I’m certain that if my neighborhood friends and I had had a place like this when we were kids that at least two of us would be missing an arm or leg right now—as opposed to just one of us. Which I suppose doesn’t say much for my parenting—bringing my kids back here time and again to play. “Go on, explore,” I implore them. Usually they just come running back with chewed gum and a empty Coke bottle. “Treasures,” in kid lingo.
It’s been great watching them lately. FINALLY, they are beginning to play together. At least daily now Ouest will take Lowe by the hand saying, “Come on Lowe, come with me.” And oh my god does he go with her. He’d follow her right off a bridge, no doubt in my mind. She can’t do anything at all these days without him hot on her tail. Which is awesome right up until the point where the thing she does is something that can only be done by one person—like playing with a toy that we’ve only got one of. Actually I shouldn’t even say toy, as it is usually something more like a main halyard or winch handle. Anyway, that’s when things turn ugly. But I choose to ignore those moments and focus on the adorableness of a child enamored of his older sibling.
Using a 15-ton crane as a swing is not unsafe at all. Ouest and Lowe combined don’t even weigh one ton.
It’s not very often I have a “major motion picture” about ocean sailing to look forward to seeing. Must be the end of days or something, because now there are two. Usually, of course, these movies are pretty terrible–I’m thinking The Dove or Waterworld, for example–but it’s seems there a chance both the films I’m waiting on now may be pretty darn good. Kontiki, which opened in Norway last year and was a huge hit there, is now in a slowly widening release over here and the early reviews are promising. The trailer, at least, makes it look very palatable.
It helps, of course, that I was a big Kontiki nut when I was a kid. I had a lavishly illustrated edition of Thor Heyerdahl‘s famous book recounting his epic 1947 voyage across the Pacific from Peru to the Tuamotus on a balsa-wood raft, and I studied it very closely. (I particularly liked the section on shark wrestling.) Though Heyerdahl’s imaginative theories about South Americans settling Polynesia are now largely discredited, he is still something of a mythic figure to sailors of a certain vintage and many others as well. If nothing else, he pioneered the historical voyage re-creation industry, which is still going strong. (See, e.g., the recent circumnavigation of Africa in a recreated Phoenician vessel.)
The other film, All is Lost, due to come out in October, is more contemporary, but seems more challenging. Robert Redford plays a singlehanded sailor whose Cal 39 hits a container in the Indian Ocean, and the film, which has little or no dialogue and only the one character in it, tracks the consequences of this misfortune.
The clip available online, as you can see, is pretty ridiculous. (Can you believe how calm it is as he climbs that mast, in spite of the huge storm on the horizon, which for some reason he couldn’t see from the deck?) But the film was well received at Cannes, so I’m keep my fingers crossed.
It’s been a while. But the best solo record-setting sailor of his generation (and maybe ever) is out on the Atlantic, gunning for another title. If Joyon, aboard his trimaran IDEC, sets a new record from NYC to the English Channel, he will hold every major solo speed-sailing crown at the same time: RTW; 24-hour; Atlantic (East-West); and Atlantic (West-East).
The mark that Joyon is trying to beat–5 days, 19 hours, 30 minutes–is held by Thomas Coville on Sodebo, and was set in 2008. To succeed, Joyon is being forced by the need to ride a depression to take an unorthodox route that is keeping him well south (for the moment) of the Great Circle route. You can see the difference, which is putting Joyon behind Coville but about 80 miles, here.
Here’s Joyon talking about his plans for 2013.
Probably one of the greatest parts of being a parent has to be having these amazing little people want to be just like you. We were out on deck today, playing, taking pictures, whatever, when Lowe suddenly tore off and ran back inside. He reemerged a minute later with his camera around his wrist and started taking pictures of the Navy patrol boat pulling in at the fuel dock right next to us. We joked that they were going to come and take him away, to which Ouest replied, “No, they’re no taking Lolo away.” They only stayed a few minutes before taking off again and you could see that Ouest was physically relieved. Sweet.
There comes a time in every repair cycle when I think we are never going to get out. No matter how much we have accomplished – rebuilding the fridge, putting in a new mizzen step, writing a unified field theory – there always seems to be more to do. The skies look dark Birds don’t sing. Some guy with a Tennessee twang and a guitar starts hanging around the boat, singing about our hard luck. As friends update their blogs with cheery pictures of potlucks in sunny anchorages, we sit in the cockpit, swaddled in all our sweaters, sanding the roller furler foil and wondering if it is ever going to stop raining long enough to put primer on the boom. Then paint the boom. Then reassemble the outhaul.
Around about now, I need to give myself a good shake and remember that nothing lasts forever. Years ago, I was stuck in a tiny airport in Indonesia. Every hour, our flight got delayed another hour. About eight hours in, I was starting to go a little Shining. A woman I was travelling with put a hand on my arm and said, “Everything ends. No matter how boring, or awful, it all stops eventually.”
And she was right. Three hours later, we finally flew out of there. Just like we finally sailed out of Cartagena. And we finally sailed out of Colon.I’m almost done. No, really. Almost done.
We have our strategies. Erik and I look through The List (you have to have a list), and designate which jobs have to be done before we sail. New forestay? Yes. Repair the dinghy chaps? No.
And I remember how lucky I am to be doing this at all. As I write this, I am watching the kids ride their scooters around the local park. As they race past, they shriek, “Mom! Look at me, Mom!” It isn’t raining at the moment. I could be sitting in a grey cubicle somewhere, but I’m not. And the rigger should be working on that forestay this afternoon.
Mr Tennessee Guitar can save his sad songs for somebody else today. Because we are going to get out of here. Soon.
Mia and I found out about this last week, but it’s only now been made public, to much excitement from us! Though we won’t be directly involved in running it, we’re surely going to promote it! We’ll be sailing the same waters this summer in Arcturus , so we’ll be posting our own experiences there….
Sailing cruise through the Baltic in summer 2014
St. Petersburg and Swedish Archipelagos on the route
Cruising rally specialists World Cruising Club (WCC), have announced an exciting new addition to their rally programme, with the first ever ARC Baltic Rally planned for summer 2014. Billed as “six capitals in six weeks” the new rally will offer a different focus from the trans-ocean events, for which WCC is best known. A combination of days cruising at sea, combined with an exploration of the region’s fascinating culture and history, will take cruisers on a 1,500nm voyage of discovery through Europe’s “east sea”.
Andrew Bishop from World Cruising Club commented on the new rally. “We’ve often had requests from previous ARC participants for a Baltic cruise. Now, having proved with the popular Malts Cruise in Scotland, that the rally format of easy cruising, cultural and social activities, together with a lead-boat works well, I felt the time was right to go further east. The Baltic is a vast waterway which offers some superb sailing, and the added attraction of a unique and varied history, makes it a perfect place to cruise.“ Discussing the organization of the route, he continued “By having a lead-boat with an experienced Baltic sailor aboard, we can provide guidance and assistance all the way along the route, right into St. Petersburg!“.
Starting from the Baltic port of Kiel, the home of German sailing, the ARC Baltic itinerary will include the Estonian capital Tallin, the former Russian Imperial capital St. Petersburg, the Finnish capital Helsinki, the Finnish provincial capital Mariehamn, the Swedish capital Stockholm, and the Danish capital Copenhagen. En route, the rally sails through some of the most beautiful and interesting sights in the Baltic. The rally format will be adapted to the Baltic and the individual legs will be short, one to two days, with the focus being to experience the cultural history of the region and enjoy the stunning beauty of the Swedish and Finnish archipelagos. Over six weeks the rally will sail close to 1500 nautical miles, with an itinerary that allows flexibility for the prevailing weather encountered. The start is planned to be in mid-July to be finished by late August, allowing yachts from further afield to be back to their home ports by the end of the month. World Cruising Club will lead the rally from onboard a yacht sailing with the fleet, with an experienced Baltic sailor and historian as guide.
At this stage World Cruising Club is taking expressions of interest for the first rally to be run in the summer of 2014.
To register interest visit www.worldcruising.com/contact
More information about the proposed route at http://tinyurl.com/balticrally
They’ve got it all: speed, power, (relative) safety, and a hard-sailing (though small) fleet. But the MOD70s are still struggling to find a place in the sailing world’s consciousness.
Which is a shame, because they are pretty amazing boats, frequently sailing at 2.5 times the true wind speed.
This video came from a little outing the folks at Latitude 38 had on Orion, an MOD70 that’s going to tear up the Left Coast sailing scene. It was enough to have Richard Spindler lamenting that Larry, Sir Russell, and the America’s Cup got it all wrong when they selected the AC72 over the MOD70:
Having sailed the MOD70 Orion on Banderas Bay last week, we no longer speculate the MOD70s would have been a great choice for the America’s Cup. We know they would have.
The MOD70s are about as strict a one-design class as there could be. For instance, all the gear on the boats is exactly the same, right down to the colors of the lines. This, along with a soft rather than wing main, keeps the price of the whole shebang reasonable. You could buy a couple of completely fitted out MOD70s for the price of just a wing mast for an AC72, and you don’t need an army to sail them. Based on viewing Orion inside and out, the MODs, which have crossbeams with sexy curves, have been beautifully crafted.
According to Swiss Steve Ravussin, who is a big part in the MOD70 organization, these new trimarans are a huge improvement on the ORMA 60 trimarans. “Thanks to less sail area but longer hulls, the MODs are faster in most conditions, but safer.” Ravussin is keen on big multihull safety, having fipped ORMA 60s mid-ocean twice. He also told us that the MODs are stronger, more reliable, and less complicated than the fragile ORMA designs.
For more MOD70 action, you only have to look across the Atlantic, where the class is duking it out in the Route des Princes stage race. The Valencia-Lisbon leg was just won by Oman Air-Musandam. Does this look edgy enough for you?
If not, how about some video?
Although I’ve been stuck here in Marathon Florida longer than I would like, we’ve been busy as bees during our layover. I’m here with one of my crew from the New Orleans – Florida Keys leg of our trip and before we set off on the next leg, up the East coast to Maine, we’re doing repairs on the boat which they are caretaking. The first big job was the transom/outboard well, which had been underbuilt and was sorely in need of repair. After a couple good yanks on the outboard the mounting face ripped right out!That big empty space in the center of the photo? That would be where the outboard is supposed to mount…
Time to break out the fiberglass. And I thought I was done with this sort of nasty work… Still, as much as I haven’t missed the mind-altering fumes and constant itch, I have been enjoying myself. There is much to be said for versatility of fiberglass, the ability to play chemist, shaping solid structures out of liquid and cloth. It can be rather fun, once you’re done with the grinding, and it feels good to be working with my hands again.
The first step, as always, is the worst. You need freshly ground fiberglass all around your repair area. This is best done with an angle grinder equipped with a 4-1/2″ grinding wheel for tight spots and a 6″ sanding disk for flat areas. We ground out a long bevel in all directions that we planned to lay fiberglass cloth.
Then we poked around for a bit of wood to build up the structure of our repair. A good piece of hardwood is as strong as quite a few layers of fiberglass and when I’m doing structural repair I use wood wherever possible to keep the materials cost down. Properly encapsulated in fiberglass it ought to last the life of the boat.This bit of mahogany happened to be a perfect fit so all I had to do was give it a rough sanding to give the fiberglass something to key to.
Our next move was to lay out supplies. I’ve learned the hard way that when doing glasswork there is nothing more important than proper preparation, including having every tool you expect to need on hand.
For this repair we went with fiberglass mat and cloth, as it was what we had on hand. We used West System epoxy and fillers.I’ve also learned to always lay out a good-sized board for cutting cloth and another for wetting it out, even if I don’t think I’ll need them for a particular repair. This is the stuff that’s easy to forget until you’re having to scramble for it.
With everything together we went and cut out all of our cloth beforehand. Tending towards working on the fly this is another lesson I’ve learned the hard way. Glasswork go so much smoother and with fewer interruptions if you cut and dry fit every snippet of cloth and mat before you begin.This cloth is quite old and pretty grotty-looking, but it worked ok
Finally, time to get started.
One of a few reasons why I tend to use West System epoxies is their measuring system. For about $15 you can buy a set of pumps which are calibrated so that one pump of hardener will catalyze one pump of resin. This makes it easy to pump out only what you need, saving waste and making it easier not to rush. For most repairs I will keep the same brush and mixing container until they get too tacky to use but mix only enough epoxy to wet out one or two pieces of cloth a time. This way if I run into any snafus I’m not rushing to sort them out and put on the next layer before my epoxy starts to kick.
The first step with any repair it to coat the entire repair area with neat resin (called wetting out). I took care to saturate the wood as much as possible. The unthickened epoxy penetrates into the grain of the wood giving it protection from moisture and a stronger bond with the fiberglass which we were about to apply.
After wetting everything out we thickened a couple squirts of epoxy with West System’s structural filler, a product which gives the epoxy greater strength and density. You can use all kinds of stuff to thicken epoxy, ranging from sawdust and talcum powder to all kinds of highly specific commercial fillers. The main thing is to use a high-density filler when you want strength and a low-density filler when you want easy sanding. We used our thickened epoxy to stick our board in place, holding it in place with a stick jammed against it on the inside of our repair area. Fiberglass really doesn’t like to conform to sharp angles so we globbed on extra at the corners to fill in space and round out the angles.
With our board in place we started applying fiberglass. Fiberglass mat is made of randomly chopped strands of fiberglass and has good bonding properties, sticking to wood or old fiberglass with more tenacity than cloth so it is best to start repairs with a layer of mat. Following the mat is a layer of fiberglass cloth which is woven from long strands and provides much more strength than mat. We laid up two layers of each, starting with mat on the bottom for a good bond and ending with cloth for a smoother finish. It is also possible to buy variations of fiberglass, known as bi-axial cloth, which have layers of mat and cloth stitched together and are a bit easier to use but we used what we had around.We cut our pieces so that each would overlap and only have to fold over one axis, making them much easier to lay flat than if we had used single large pieces It’s not very pretty, but it is quite strong! The stains on our fiberglass spread when we added the epoxy but didn’t seem to interfere with our bond
With the outside built up we waited until the epoxy had set enough to let us remove our clamping stick and then started on the inside. Again, our first step was to soften all corners and fill potential voids with thickened epoxy.
Then we laid up our mat and cloth, a couple pieces at a time. There is almost always a point in my fiberglass work where things start to gel up and little voids or mishaps need attending to and often the glove supply is running low and for some reason or another when I go back to review what I did I realize that I just stopped taking photos. This is just before that point:
From here I don’t even have a shot of the finished repair! It seems we were too caught up in the next task, which was far more serious. So for now I’ll just say that everything went well and the new motor mount seems far stronger than the old. Almost as quickly as we finished it we had forgotten it, because there was this to contend with…
Lunacy got hauled out at Maine Yacht Center soon after we arrived there from Bermuda last week, and yesterday I went up to have a look at her. As you can see in the photo up top, there’s very little bottom paint left on her nether parts. She’s been mostly bald like this for most of the winter. Since taking her down to Puerto Rico last November, it’s been a battle keeping the growth off and she’s had her bottom scrubbed five times–three times by me and twice by divers. Besides being too soft to stay on the boat for a full year, or after a few scrubs, the ablative copper-free Ultima Eco paint I had on didn’t seem to be an effective deterrent to life in tropics.
So I was wrestling with the big question: do I finally abandon my quest for an effective copper-free paint? Is it time to resort to the “nuclear option”??? The MYC service manager Jeff Stack and I discussed what would be involved, i.e., lathering on more barrier coating in hopes of keeping a hard, or semi-hard, copper paint separated from Lunacy‘s vulnerable aluminum self.
Troll the Internet for opinions on this subject and you’ll find a perfect ying-yang of truth and certainty. There are those who are perfectly certain that putting any copper paint on an aluminum boat is suicidal, no matter how much barrier coat you have between paint and hull. And there are those who are certain this is no problem at all, provided the barrier coat is intact. I have in fact never heard of an aluminum hull being eaten by paint–all the horrible corrosion stories you hear are of boats being eaten inside-out, due to junk in their bilges. So the nuclear option, at last, was seeming pretty tempting.
Paint, however, turned out to be the least of my worries. On pulling the plug at the bottom of Lunacy‘s rudder skeg, I was mortified when I saw water pouring out–about a pint’s worth–which means, most probably, that the weld at the top of the skeg once again has a crack in it somewhere.
So now I’m in denial mode. Fuck the paint. Fuck the skeg. It’s June. We’ll put on some more Ultima Eco, splash the old girl, and keep sailing until fall. Then we’ll confront reality.
To assuage my disappointment re the rudder skeg, I treated myself to the fun job of installing the new barometer and clock I bought at the Miami show in February. They look pretty sharp, don’t you think?
I also spent a little time roaming the MYC shed, where I found:
My buddy Phil Cavanaugh’s boat Alida undergoing extensive keel surgery, this as a result of him parking her on a rock for a few hours last summer.
There are also two new third-generation Akalaria Class 40s in the house getting prepped for their owners. Features include a retractable hard dodger that slides back and forth over the cockpit and a very serious hard chine that runs most of the hull’s length from bow to stern.
Written by Ben Ellison on Jun 11, 2013 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub
New York Harbor demands your attention even when you have lots of great electronics including what’s arguably the best recreational-level AIS target tracking system. That’s my excuse for not photographing the ideal example of the Vesper Marine AIS WatchMate 850 at work in heavy traffic. A more compelling shot might be more zoomed in and would have at least one solid target icon indicating a vessel(s) that had reached the Vesper’s highly configurable alarm level. But do note how the WatchMate is tracking 114 targets at this point in time though it’s also filtering 102 of those off the screen so that yours truly can better see the ones that matter. That in itself is worthy of discussion…
The screen above shows all the settings available for each of four WatchMate profiles, the idea being that you can have four different sets of filter and alarm settings for different situations like the Anchored, Harbor, Coastal, and Offshore defaults. Note that besides the display orientation — north or head up — and the circular guard range alarm, there are four ways to filter (but not ignore) targets and four possible CPA alarm parameters. All the WatchMate products have had this advanced collision avoidance system since I first heard of Vesper in 2008, which makes it all the more mysterious that so few AIS plotters have adopted their good ideas.
Above is a somewhat random example of filtering I shot on Gizmo yesterday. In fact, I’d be quite careful about filtering targets off the screen based on TCPA, especially in New York Harbor where 30 knot catamaran ferries constantly jet around often outside the shipping channels. A sharp turn could quickly change their TCPA from never to 2 minutes and that’s not when I want them to suddenly pop onto the WatchMate screen, even if that change also kicked off a CPA alarm. But I’m sure that this filter makes more sense in some situations; the paramount goal of maximum meaningful alarms and minimum annoying alarms wherever you cruise is challenging. Besides, on many bridges the WatchMate serves as the primary collision avoidance display while all AIS targets, unfiltered and unalarmed, show up on other screens. The WatchMate supports this with NMEA 0183 and USB outputs, and Vesper’s newer models add NMEA 2000 and WiFi.
Above is a CPA alarm setting that I often use because I generally don’t need to get alarmed about a stopped target no matter how close I chose to get. I also filter out the stopped target screen icons in a place like New York so I can see the critters in motion instead of the forest. I wonder sometimes if the folks who fret about the proliferation of AIS, usually while looking at a zoomed out screen loaded with oversize target icons, understand how relatively easy it is to track hundreds of targets but still focus on the ones that count. Heck, there’s no magic to these settings; the targets themselves are constantly delivering the data they’re based on (unlike MARPA where your electronics are trying to figure out the other vessel’s course and speed by comparing your boat motion to that of a dumb radar target).
And there’s more. The WatchMate target detail screens are neatly designed to deliver the most important information efficiently. For instance, if a Class A vessel has not entered a destination into its transponder Vesper doesn’t waste your brain cycles by putting “DEST ____blank____” on the screen. But this particular screen is what you get when a CPA Alarm sounds and at first the second button down reads “Mute.” The “CPA” button that then appears is especially interesting…
WatchMate is not the first AIS plotter to graphically illustrate what a particular CPA will look like; I saw and liked it in Capn Voyager software many years ago. Again, why hasn’t this view proliferated? While it’s great to know with some certainty that if you and another vessel maintain course and speed the Closest Point of Approach will be, say, 1/4 mile in 12 minutes, you still may not know if that means you’ll be crossing the bow of big, fast ship — yike! — or nicely passing astern. This screen instantly gives you the answer and moreover will change in real time if you or the target change course or speed.
Some developers are improving their AIS display and alarming, and I was happy to recently spot the Simrad NSS screen above. I like the term “Icon Filters” as it clearly doesn’t mean “Target Ignoring” and those settings would help a skipper negotiate a busy place like New York Harbor, though, again, I’d be careful with the combination of “Hide Safe” (Safe = not causing CPA alarm) and those fast turning ferries. I also like the way Coastal Explorer graphically advances Class B targets, which only transmit data every 30 seconds, and orders the target list into “Passing” and “Not Passing” sections. Does your AIS plotter do something you find particularly helpful?
Meanwhile, Vesper Marine has two interesting new WatchMate transponders, though they were perhaps a dite early announcing them. Seeing the Vision model (below) pop up in a Defender ad on Panbo is one sure sign that this color touchscreen WatchMate is finally available here in the USA. I also notice that Vesper is pairing the new blackbox XB-8000 transponder with a WatchMate 670 so you can get the new generation input/output along with the same low-power plotting display seen above. I have not yet had a chance to try Vesper’s new generation and would love to hear from those who have. No one, though, has yet seen how these products will evolve. A transponder with 0183, 2000, USB, and WiFi can conceivably do a lot more than AIS as Vesper has already demonstrated with their anchor watch feature.
The other day when we lifted the anchor right before dark for the overnight sail to Santa Rosalia we saw just how lucky we were that we left when we did. The anchor was just barely hanging onto the chain thanks to a missing pin on the swivel shackle. Again, my terminology is bad, but see that little round cotter pin in the picture? That was missing. And that big pin that the anchor is pulling against had managed to slide halfway out—only the weight of the anchor pulling against it was keeping it from falling all the way out. And yes, I know that little round pin I put in isn’t correct, but it’s all I could find at the moment, and I knew we weren’t dropping anchor again for a while.
And just to continue my healthy living posts—here was tonight’s little snack. Times two. The Mexican Hot Dog. Dog wrapped in bacon, covered in onions, tomatoes, mayo, ketchup, cheez whiz, and jalapeños, all wrapped up in an incredibly large soft bun. Sixteen pesos please.
I don’t think these two have ever been quite this sweaty and dirty. It was just one of those days where they played hard, and were sure to play on floors, under tables, on sidewalks, whatever. Here we were sitting in the town gymnasium again watching the girls play basketball. Ouest’s favorite was the girl with the purple stripe down the side of her shorts. She watched her as if she was the greatest professional athlete on earth.