C Chronicles hronicles hronicles of of of the the the C Cruising ruising ruising C Club lub lub of of of A America merica merica
Issue Issue Issue 62 62 62 2020 2020 2020
Commodore’s Column To all Voyages readers: Our sincere thanks to Voyages editors, Jack and Zdenka Griswold, for producing another stunning edition of my favorite magazine. Thanks also to the nearly dozen members who proofread the many articles herein—more than 25 in number. Special thanks to Final Voyages editor Maggie Salter, who makes sure those who have crossed the bar are memorialized in this publication. Finally, we appreciate immensely the work and support of our excellent professional design and editing team. I am especially grateful to all those who took the time to share their adventures and photos with Voyages this year: without them, the magazine would not be possible. We have an enormous variety of stories this year, including ocean crossings; high latitudes adventures; Great Loop and ICW travels; tales of family voyaging; medical emergencies and dragging anchors; and firsthand accounts of races along both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Geographically, this year’s issue spans the world, from the U.S. and Europe’s historical towns and cities to Indonesia, Africa, New Zealand, and French Polynesia. I am also pleased to see book reviews of three excellent publications—Paul Heiney’s Ocean Sailing, which includes contributions from a number of CCA members; Into the Raging Sea, Rachel Slade’s account of the tragic loss of the El Faro; and Juan Corradi’s entertaining Voyages of Pirate. Boston’s Molly Barnes and her son Peter share their threeyear family voyage from Easter Island to Norway, and Pacific Northwest’s Behan and Jamie Gifford offer lessons from many years of cruising to remote places as a family. Southern California
Station Rear Commodore Steve Calhoun describes racing the 50th Transpac in a boat even older. New York Station Rear Commodore David Tunick and Boston Station RCC Trophy winner Ernie Godshalk, with Ann NobleKiley, share their Scandinavian experiences, and Blue Water Medal winner Bruce Halabisky Commodore Brad Willauer. tells us about life on a remote Indonesian island. Florida Station’s Steve James crossed the South Atlantic to the Beagle Channel. You will read about other North and South Atlantic passages, some short-handed, as well as the Bermuda 1-2. As for inland and coastal passages, don’t miss Boston’s Woodwards’, Essex’s Wadlows’, and Florida’s Schapers’ articles, among others. There are many more to explore—too many to list individually. All this for your reading pleasure. I am also pleased that several articles from last year’s issue have been published (with permission) by national sailing and cruising magazines, here and abroad. Others are available on our website, recently redesigned by San Francisco Station’s Michael Moradzadeh. Enjoy exploring the world’s oceans along with their islands, flora and fauna, cultures, and civilizations. I consider Voyages to be the National Geographic magazine of sailing. With warm regards,
About the CCA The Cruising Club of America is among North America’s foremost resources on offshore cruising and racing and, together with the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, co-organizer of the legendary Newport Bermuda Race. The club is comprised of more than 1,300 accomplished ocean sailors who willingly share their cruising expertise with the greater sailing community through books, articles, blogs, videos, seminars, and onboard opportunities. Ocean safety and seamanship training through publications and hands-on seminars is a critical component of the club’s national and international outreach efforts. The club has 14 stations and posts around the United States, Canada, and Bermuda, and CCA members are actively engaged with the next generation of ocean sailors as they look forward to the club’s second century of serving the offshore sailing community. For more information about the CCA, visit cruisingclub.org.
Bermuda * Boston * Buzzards Bay Post * Gulf of maine Post * narraGansett Bay Post Bras d’or * ChesaPeake * essex * florida * Great lakes new york * PaCifiC northwest * san franCisCo * southern California
Chronicles of the Cruising Club of America
cruising club officers Commodore – W. Bradford Willauer Vice Commodore – J. W. Robert Medland Secretary – Christopher L. Otorowski Treasurer – Peter L. Chandler
voyages editors Zdenka and Jack Griswold firstname.lastname@example.org
voyages committee Editor of Final Voyages – Maggie Salter (BOS/GMP) Past Issues Manager – Cindy Crofts-Wisch (BOS/BUZ) Associate Editor – John Rousmaniere (NYS) Editorial Advisors: Dale Bruce (BOS/GMP), Doug Bruce (BOS/GMP), Lynnie Bruce (BOS/GMP), John Chandler (BOS/GMP), Doug Cole (PNW), Max Fletcher (BOS/GMP), Bob Hanelt (SAF), Cameron Hinman (PNW), Amy Jordan (BOS), Charlie Peake (NYS), Krystina Scheller (BDO)
editors emeritus Alfred B. Stamford, 1962-1974; Charles H. Vilas, 1974-1988; Bob and Mindy Drew, 1988-1994; John and Nancy McKelvy, 1994-1999; John and Judy Sanford, 1999-2002; T.L. and Harriet Linskey, 2003-2010; Doug and Dale Bruce, 2010-2017
design and layout Zdenka and Jack Griswold; Claire MacMaster, Barefoot Art Graphic Design; Tara Law, Artist; Hillary Steinau, Camden Design Group
proofreading Zdenka Griswold; Virginia M. Wright, Consultant; Editorial Advisors
printed by J.S. McCarthy Printers, Augusta, Maine
cover photo Bagheera making her way through glacial brash ice in Western Greenland. Photograph by Frances Brann. See Erik de Jong’s Bagheera: An Expedition Vessel Comes into Her Own on page 120. copyright notice Copyright 2020, The Cruising Club of America, Inc. Copyright 2020, respective author(s) of each article, including any photographs, drawings, and illustrations. No part of this work may be copied, transmitted, or otherwise reproduced by any means whatsoever except by permission of the copyright holders.
VOYAGES 2020 4
Easter Island to Cape Horn and South Georgia, Falklands to Norway and More: A Family’s Three-Year, 36,000-Nautical Mile Adventure Porter Barnes and Molly Barnes, Boston Station
Bachué Explores the South Pacific by Renée Athey
The Joys of Single-Handed Sailing: Report from the 2019 Bermuda 1-2 by Gust Stringos, Boston Station, Gulf of Maine Post
50/55: The 50th Transpac on a 55-Year-Old Classic by Steve Calhoun, Southern California Station
Farewell, Scandinavia: Ithaka Always in Our Minds
by Ernie Godshalk, Boston Station, with Ann Noble-Kiley, Boston Station Winners of the Club’s 2018 Royal Cruising Club Trophy
70 Musings on Landfall by Ellen Massey Leonard, Boston Station; Photographs by the author and Seth Leonard Winners of the Club’s 2018 Young Voyager Award
Cruising East Africa: From the Swahili Coast to Madagascar
by Mark Scott, New York Station; Photographs by Liza Copeland and the author
Cruising as a Lifestyle
by Dick Stevenson, New York Station
Felix Cruises the Great Loop
by Tom and Dorothy Wadlow, Essex Station
Boston to Nova Scotia and the Great Lakes: A One-Year Journey of Discovery
by Dee and Jim Woodward, Boston Station
On an Inadvertent Maritime Camino to Galicia
104 Bad Snowbirds!
by Lynnie Bruce and Max Fletcher, Boston Station, Gulf of Maine Post
Goodbye Baltic and Scandinavia; Hello Tides, Current, and Fog: Summer 2019—Night Watch in Sweden, Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands
112 The Long Way Home: Single-Handed on America’s Great Loop
by David Tunick, New York Station
The Salt Makers of the East Java Sea: Life on a Remote Indonesian Island
by Bruce Halabisky Winner of the Club’s 2018 Blue Water Medal
126 Such a Drag!!
Gracie on the Rocks: A Schooner Rediscovered After 50 Years
134 Christmas in the Abacos
by John Kennell, Pacific Northwest Station
by Erik de Jong, Bras d’Or Station by Mark Roye, Pacific Northwest Station by Nat Benjamin, Boston Station, Buzzards Bay Post
140 On Second Thought, Let’s Go to London
by Anne Kolker, New York Station
by Amy Jordan and Roger Block, Boston Station
148 Lessons from Cruising
by Kevin de Regt
120 Bagheera: An Expedition Vessel Comes into Her Own
64 Atlantic Crossing on a Contessa 32: It’s Always Something!
by Ron Schaper, Florida Station; Photographs by Andrea Dowling
by Behan and Jamie Gifford, Pacific Northwest Station
158 Subantarctic New Zealand: The Auckland Islands—A Seabird Capital
by Vicky and Tom Jackson, Great Lakes Station
168 Transatlantic via the Northern Route
by Kristina Thyrre and Atle Moe, Florida Station
176 South Atlantic to the Beagle Channel
by Steve James, Florida Station
182 North-about from Europe to Maine Is Logical
by Bill Strassberg, Boston Station, Gulf of Maine Post
194 Around Cape Horn and Tierra Del Fuego on a Superyacht
by Skip Novak, Great Lakes Station; Photographs by the author and Gerhard Veldsman
201 Book Review - The Voyages of Pirate: 55,000 Ocean Miles on a Classic Swan
by Juan E. Corradi Review by Rives Potts, Essex Station
202 Book Review - Into the Raging Sea: Thirty-Three Mariners, One Megastorm and the Sinking of El Faro
by Rachel Slade Review by Frank Cassidy, Boston Station, Gulf of Maine Post
203 Book Review - Ocean Sailing: The Offshore Cruising Experience with Real-life Practical Advice from the author, with
members of the Royal Cruising Club, Ocean Cruising Club, and the Cruising Club of America by Paul Heiney Review by Amanda Balasubramanian, Great Lakes Station
204 FINAL VOYAGES Salutes to departed members. Edited by Maggie Salter,
Boston Station, Gulf of Maine Post; Jack Griswold, Boston Station, Gulf of Maine Post; and station historians.
221 GUIDELINES for Final Voyages, Photos, and Articles 224 LAST WORDS from the Editors
issue 62 2020
â€œWith simplicity in mind, we set sail, learning as we went and building on a decade of summertime cruising experience.
Sila close-hauled in the British Virgin Islands.
Easter Island to Cape Horn and South Georgia, Falklands to Norway and More: A Family’s Three-Year, 36,000-Nautical Mile Adventure by Porter Barnes and Molly Barnes, Boston Station MOLLY: In 2013, my husband, Christopher, and I sold our house, our cars, and nearly half of our belongings in Leadville, Colorado, and moved onto Sila to embark on a family adventure. We had been taking other people’s children on adventures in the mountains and canyons of Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah for 20 years; it was time to take our two sons, Rabbit and Porter, then nine and ten years old, on one. We started in Tréguier, France, where we took ownership of Sila, a 47-foot Boreal: an aluminum hull, rigged with simple systems such as at-themast reefing, large water tanks but no watermaker, an icebox instead of refrigeration, and no genset. With simplicity in mind, we set sail, learning as we went and building on a decade of summertime cruising experience. After four months in France, Spain, and Portugal, we left the Cape Verde islands to sail across the Atlantic to Antigua, then enjoyed the Caribbean until the year ended. The following year took us to far-reaching places including the Galapagos, Easter Island, Cape Horn, Ascension, the Azores, Ireland, and our favorite, South Georgia, off Antarctica. We spent months at sea crossing big expanses of ocean, and as many months poking our way through stunning coasts and islands. Finally, we crossed the Arctic Circle in Norway, cruised south slowly and crossed the pond one more time via the Caribbean and into New York Harbor, ending exactly three years after we started with a haulout in Maine.
PORTER: I always get the same few questions about our adventure on the boat. Invariably, there is one about storms and sharks. We answer by talking about our weather forecasting system to avoid storms, and explaining that sharks really weren’t an issue. I like to follow with my favorite harmless shark stories. A few questions down the line, maybe after the “favorite place” question, people usually ask how we tolerated living together in such a small space. Tolerated? Hmmm. I frequently ignore this and simply say that I got along with my brother and add something about getting to know my parents really well, but the question has always kind of bothered me. I recently realized that I did not simply tolerate these people; we became a real family on the boat. That is fundamentally what made our expedition so special—our family relationships were enriched. Almost every other night, we played Oh Hell, a tricktaking card game that is a precursor to bridge. Fun became a daily staple of family life, not just a pleasant surprise on some weekends. The brilliance of Oh Hell is not in the cards, but in the way it creates conversation. It’s just engaging enough that you can play and talk, sustained by the chocolate bar that more or less became necessary to the game, sometimes for as long as an hour. MOLLY: The regular games, whether it was Oh Hell, Catan, Survive, or Carcassonne, certainly brought us together most issue 62 2020
Clockwise from top left: Porter reefing, bound for the Azores; Molly and Porter in Port Stanley, Falkland Islands; Porter and Rabbit, coming into New York Harbor; Porter and Rabbit preparing for an evening card game.
nights. But for the first time in the boys’ lives, we were also not both working full time. This meant my mind was not preoccupied with an unrelated to-do list. When I did mention something that needed doing (“I need to clean the big winches in the cockpit soon,” or “We need to eat the spinach before it goes bad”), it was relevant to all of us. Because we were all part of the same expedition, the same experience, we were each able to be fully present for the nightly game. Perhaps more importantly, the games had a leveling effect, as any one of the four of us could win on any given night. There was a moment each day when parent and child roles were subordinate to friendly competition, and someone would earn the bragging rights for victory until the next night. We were very clear from the beginning that the entire family would be crew, not passengers, on Sila. When we first moved onto the boat, the boys washed the dinner dishes every single night, took turns cleaning the aft head, cooked dinner for the family one night a week, helped to complete and record the daily engine check, and learned to hand, reef, and steer. During 6
our first offshore passage, they each stood watch with one of us for an hour at a time. The methodical learning curve meant that by the end of our three years, they each completely managed six hours of watch, mostly during the day. We both regularly slept during their watches. PORTER: The phrase “crew not passengers” would haunt me over hundreds of dishes and many hours of watch. It was not fun, but in retrospect I loved the work. On the last of our three Atlantic crossings, my brother and I asked my dad to wake us, instead of our mom, as a surprise. The two of us each took a two-hour shift watching the sails from midnight to four in the morning, letting our mom catch up on sleep. It is a powerful feeling for a 12-year-old to stand on deck, the only one awake, tending the wind-steering gear to make sure that forces as strong as the trade winds, the sails, and the waves stayed in balance while the boat moved westward. MOLLY: It was an equally memorable moment for me when I woke up at 3 a.m. In a matter of a few seconds, I realized
Above: Sila anchored in Cobbler’s Cove, South Georgia. Left: The Barnes family at Cape Horn, December 2014.
that I had overslept the midnight start of my watch, panicked that something had happened to Christopher, observed that the boat was clearly sailing well, knew that we had obviously not hit anything, and surmised that Christopher had fallen asleep on watch. Imagine my relief when I climbed out of the aft cabin and heard Rabbit, then 11 years old, announce that he and Porter had split my watch so I could sleep. When he pointed out that there were no boats in sight or on radar, that we were on course, that the sails were set perfectly, and that “The Wizard” (our Windpilot) was steering perfectly, I was overtaken with parental pride. While this level of competency and trust was heartwarming, the real value had come in the journey to reach it. When we first began sailing, we did not trust the boys to manage their own harnesses. For example, when Porter wanted to come on deck, a parent had to clip his tether for him. Over time, we slowly began to trust, but verify: the boys operated their own tether clips but a parent had to confirm compliance. Ultimately, we had pre-teens demonstrating enough responsibility to manage
their own tethers—and we were confident enough in their compliance and overall competence that we were readily able to fall asleep when one was on watch. This implicit trust at a young age absolutely deepened our relationship, in part because it freed up the mental energy and time to dig into more complex and interesting topics and to share lighthearted moments. Because they were taking more responsibility in sailing and managing themselves and the boat, they also earned more freedom and independence. PORTER: As time passed, I felt the effects. I could see myself gaining responsibility and independence. This feeling didn’t just satisfy me, it changed the tone of family conversations. In an argument between a 13-year-old and his parents, there is a power difference, one against which the teen is probably pushing. The tone of this argument changes, for the better in my opinion, if the two sides are brought closer to being equals by working together on the same thing. We each commit a quarter of our day to standing watch. The result is a two-way street. Going one way, I am unconsciously building goodwill issue 62 2020
Exploring Seno Pia glacier by dinghy.
“There is nothing like seeing only three other people for months on end in the Chilean channels to make you appreciate each other’s contributions.
with my parents. In the other direction, the work involved in cooking one meal a week and doing a share of the watch showed me the hard work involved in living on and maintaining a boat. The four of us were on the same page, working toward shared goals and enjoying shared experiences in a way that I had never seen in a family. If fun and work were the mortar that held our foundation together, the bricks were time. There is nothing like seeing only three other people for months on end in the Chilean channels to make you appreciate each other’s contributions. We have countless shared experiences and memories of little moments. To this day, we laugh uproariously when we talk about the burning squirrel from a podcast that we listened to one afternoon on passage. I can tell countless stories about the many ways Rabbit and I jumped off the boat, including a Tarzan swing. And we all remember, as our mouths water at the thought, the moment 8
when I caught two small tuna at the same time. The simple number of stories is of real importance. Extended time on the boat requires food, especially with two teenage boys, so trips to grocery stores were a staple of our visits to land. Even when we were tied up at a dock, provisioning the boat for multiple months without the help of a car was a significant undertaking. In the spirit of crew not passengers, my mom and I would walk to the grocery store with big backpacks and canvas totes. I would stagger back with a 50-liter backpack full of canned food and dried beans (my name is Porter, after all). I like to joke that my mom usually carried the toilet paper and other light and airy things! No matter whether the loads were heavy or light, our shopping trips strengthened our bonds with each other, as we tried to read labels in foreign languages, dreamed about delicious meals with our new bounty, and schemed practical jokes to pull on Rabbit and Daddy.
Mahi mahi in the Bahamas.
These hours spent wandering streets of small European, Chilean, mainland and island towns in search of grocery stores were a consistent highlight. While our relationship flourished in extraordinary places (beaches covered with 300,000 penguins, glaciers filling a bay with ice, or thousands of dolphins jumping as far as the eye could see), it was built in the mundane moments of shopping. Walking together is almost sacred to me now. When I was struggling to adjust after moving ashore, we would walk in the hills behind our new home and talk. I would find myself looking for a grocery store, which was more relaxing to me than the foreign landscape. All this time together set the stage for some pretty special moments. During our first Atlantic crossing, I emerged from my sleep and blearily looked into the red headlamp. Following whispered directions, I slipped on a thin sweater, a pair of shorts, and my harness. I climbed up on deck, clipping my harness into the cockpit’s jacklines. As I stepped out into the open air, the breeze hit me. Sila was cruising along, with just a gentle roll as we flew downwind. My eyes cleared as I looked around. Stars stretched from horizon to horizon in every direction. Mama sat down next to me and handed me an earbud. With each of us wearing one earbud, we shared a song, OneRepublic’s Counting Stars. A glowing white sash hung across the sky, barely recognizable as the collection of stars I had known as the Milky Way. With no land in sight, and not a drop of light pollution, the stars extended down to the ocean on all sides. I felt surrounded, as if the night sky were reaching around, hugging me, hugging Sila. Then I felt the hug, warm and calming, but it wasn’t the sky’s, it was Mama’s. MOLLY: When people ask us about living on a boat, we always answer that it was the best thing we ever did. We sailed to some extraordinary places and we saw some truly awe-inspiring sights. We met fascinating, smart, kind, generous people everywhere we went. We learned firsthand just how big and just how small the world is. By far and away, though, what made it the best is the simple fact that we did it together as a family. The expedition is over, but the bonds we created hold fast even as we move into new and more separated chapters of our lives.
Sila anchored in Estero Quintupeu, Chile.
About the Authors After founding and running the High Mountain Institute for 18 years, Molly and Christopher Barnes moved onto a sailboat with their two sons, Porter and Jack “Rabbit,” in 2013. Leaving their home in Leadville, Colorado, they flew to France to pick up their new Boreal 47. Christened Sila, she is an aluminum centerboard boat, built with the intent of adventuring in the high latitudes. The family set sail, eventually heading both far south and far north. After three years and 36,000 miles, Christopher took a job as the head of school at Midland, a boarding school in California. Living 30 miles inland, Molly and Porter, now a junior at Midland, wrote this article together, remembering the cruise that brought the Barnes family closer together. Sila is currently in Newfoundland, where Molly and Christopher will continue their northerly explorations during summer vacations. issue 62 2020
South ” ! o G l l ’ u o Y es c a l P e h t , h “O Accompanying quotes used in the title and as section headings are from Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss, published by Random House in 1990. by Renée Athey
Y HUSBAND AND I HAVE BEEN ASKED HOW WE PLAN FOR LONG SAILING VOYAGES. It is a difficult question to answer. Tito (FLA) and I definitely do NOT have the same style of going about anything, let alone planning a trip on a sailboat from Florida to the South Pacific and beyond. But somehow, our sojourns all come together.
I can say that our voyage of this year, in 2019, was a long time in formulation—perhaps even decades. From all reports (of a time before I knew him), aside from a wacky captain, Tito’s first passage across the Pacific Ocean as a 20-something crew was the adventure he’d always dreamed about. The weather was warm, the wind was predictable, the sails were set and hardly adjusted for weeks at a time, and French Polynesia was idyllic: full of music and pretty girls. For a long time, he’d wanted to do the trip again, but in his own boat this time. He finally found the perfect boat for the task, and the plan was put into motion while the two of us are still healthy and energetic! A few years ago, we took this same boat, a dark-blue, 54-foot Hanse named Bachué, to Panama, and extensively explored both the Atlantic and Pacific sides, as we used to do when we were younger. The boat proved to be strong, dry, comfortable, and reasonably quick. We decided that 2019 was the year we could sail Bachué to Panama again and then keep going on the path that so many sailors take, to the South Pacific. 10
This trip beyond Panama to the Galapagos and French Polynesia was completely new and exciting for me, and coming so many years after his first voyage, almost like a new experience for Tito. We both learned so much.
Pacific Anchorage in Fakarava, Tuamotus.
Tito and I have been at this sailing thing for quite a long time now, and back in 1979 or 1980, when the Panama Canal was still being run by Americans, it cost us a whopping $70 to go through it, which seemed like a lot at the time. We always transited center-lock then, just us behind a huge ship. These days, the transit costs more than $3,000 for a medium-sized vessel, and a boat will almost always be “nested” (translation: rafted) with one or two other boats. A lot more folks are doing this nowadays! The “pilot” of yesteryear is now an “adviser,” so the captain of a vessel really does have the last word. The canal experience is a ballet in motion, and it never gets old for us. Panama itself has so much history, cultural depth, and biological interest. Tito and I were married there, and it feels very familiar. A third bridge across the Panama Canal, on the north end, will soon bring to an end the unique drive over the very tops of the lock gates between Shelter Bay Marina and Colón. The canal ferry will also cease to be an option. While yacht people at Shelter Bay may applaud the decrease in time to get to Colón for provisioning, the new Atlantic Bridge will most certainly invite development that will have devastating effects on the jungles full of noisy monkeys,
issue 62 2020
resplendent birds, sloths, and butterflies that stretch west from the canal.
“You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” I am told that a sailor used to be able to decide on the fly where to drop anchor. That is definitely not the case with the Galapagos Islands anymore and probably for good reason. Our legwork for a visit to the Galapagos, done many months in advance, was trying, to say the least. An agent in the islands had to be hired, his frustratingly inconsistent communication dealt with, a long list of requirements fulfilled, and voluminous documentation produced. The U.S. government shutdown got in the way, a request to expedite got lost, and a voyage to the Galapagos was almost abandoned. Tito and I are so grateful that things finally fell into place! The mere prospect of arriving in the Galapagos helped propel us through a blustery 1,000-mile voyage from Panama to the south, uncooperative winds being the rule. There was the added bonus of crossing the Equator. Tito and I lingered there briefly in the middle of the night. The next day, the specter
A giant tortoise at the Charles Darwin Research Station takes a big stretch. Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz, Galapagos.
The author's son, Mateo, surfs at El Cañon, a mile-long walk from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, San Cristobal.
eyes, which can only be done in a protected reserve. Likewise, that is where one can marvel at the unexpectedly tiny size at which the tortoises begin. Equally amazing on the island of San Cristobal is the astonishing number of sea lions—an estimated 4,000—that live fearlessly amongst human beings, on the rocks, on the public beaches and docks, and on the park benches. From our anchored boat, we saw them in the harbor, heard them barking and sneezing ashore, and also smelled them, in a fishy sort of way. The island of Isabela has its little penguins and hordes of baby iguanas. Santa Cruz has more of the same, but also tourist boats galore. Tito and I felt privileged to sail to three of the many volcanic islands, and even more happy to share it all with our 27-year-old son, Mateo. We got into the frigid waters with Mateo more than once and marveled at the bounty of sharks, fish, and sea turtles in very close proximity. Mateo enjoyed world-class surfing daily in San Cristobal, often with sea lions playing in the glassy waves next to him.
of the inspección loomed big. We arrived in San Cristobal on a Friday afternoon on what reportedly was a rather obscure national holiday. Nevertheless, nine officials came by water taxi and climbed onto our boat, each of them wearing a uniform for his or her respective governmental agency, one young lady with fins in hand to inspect the hull for cleanliness. This minor crowd streamed into the cockpit, took their seats, and started firing off questions—from all directions and all at the same time. After what seemed like an eternity: all safe and sound, inspection passed, the hull declared beautiful and clean. We were in!
“You’ll be seeing great sights!” The sheer enormity of a Galapagos giant tortoise is only appreciated when standing next to one, peering into its beady 12
Large, noisy groups of sea lions are a common sight on the beaches of San Cristobal, Galapagos.
“ Where there are people, there is
music—of the special deep drums covered with cowhide and of the 8- to 14- string Marquesan ukulele.
Celebration of native music, Nuku Hiva, Marquesas.
Education is a top priority for the Ecuadorians who make the Galapagos their home, and the children are taught about conservation from an early age. Charles Darwin is famous here, of course, but we learned that despite his theories, he probably enjoyed a bowl of turtle soup as much as his shipmates who hauled live tortoises aboard for their voyage onward. Thank goodness for different sensibilities today! Galapagueños are proud of their treasure, and while carefully orchestrating everincreasing tourist activity, there are sincere efforts to control garbage and to protect this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
“Out there, things can happen, and frequently do.” Tito made the 3,500-mile Pacific crossing with a longtime friend and his 25-year-old son. Being out at sea for three weeks is not my idea of fun; I need more sleep than the experience can offer! I monitored the voyage from Florida the best I could, relying on Marine Tracker and periodic satellite phone calls from Bachué. Iridium texts came through the most reliably. Both texts and calls most often involved a request for yet another boat part that I would please shop for and bring when I met them in French Polynesia. Although certainly not a nightmare, Bachué’s crossing was anything but relaxing. In the course of a few days, a white squall blew up some minor rigging, a sleeping whale was nearly hit, and there was a middle-of-the-night encounter with Chinese longline fishermen who were in pursuit in a panga! The crew were reportedly most anxious to arrive on terra firma.
“You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.”
Traditional tattoos and ceremonial paddle, Nuku Hiva.
I rejoined Tito and Bachué on the other side of the world, in Nuku Hiva, Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia. This place is like no other. The beautiful, imposing mountains of this island are ever-present, ever-changing with the moving sunlight, always lush and green, and often misty at their heights. An abundance of soft folds of terrain fall away from equally numerous knife edges of high rock—up to 4,000 feet high. The forests are filled with waterfalls, wild horses, goats, pigs, and prehistoric stone carvings. The crowing of roosters seldom ceases. There are breathtaking vistas at every turn, whether on land or sea. There is a handful of bays of various sizes, each boasting mountains that rise dramatically straight up from the undulating waters which seemed to be filled with giant manta
issue 62 2020
Dramatic shadows at day’s end in Anaho, on the north side of Nuku Hiva, Marquesas.
rays and turtles. Where there are people, there is music—of the special deep drums covered with cowhide and of the 8- to 14string Marquesan ukulele. The natives, men and women both, are extensively tattooed: they themselves are works of art. And they are very friendly: “Bonjour, bonjour!” French is the predominant language, which made communication a challenge. Our knowledge of Spanish helped, though! Tito and I tarried in Nuku Hiva, especially enjoying the calmest and least-settled anchorages. We actually circumnavigated this hulk of about 135 square miles. Every nautical mile sailed provided new and awesome perspectives of the island’s fins and spires. I thought about a young Herman Melville as we left Nuku Hiva behind. He jumped his whaling ship here with a friend 160 years ago to escape an unbearable captain and live in a village, Taipivai, alongside a pretty nearby harbor that Tito and I visited. Melville considered his newfound home to be paradise for a while—he even wrote a book about it, Typee—until he developed concerns about whether the locals might be fattening him up to eat him! The idea titillates the imagination.
“Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?” Tito and I felt some relief in departing the Nuku Hiva bay at Taiohae, but only because of the oft bone-wrenching Pacific surge in the harbor. We looked forward to anchoring in calm waters within a coral atoll in the Tuamotus to the west. The ideal tides for entering any one of the Tuamotus atolls are calculated days out, to allow for the perfect arrival time—in excellent light and slack tide, whether high or low, to ensure safe entry through the pass. It makes for just a bit of anxiety! Stories of close calls in the passes, or of those boats that didn’t make it, abound in sailing circles. The highlight of our three-day sail from the Marquesas to the Tuamotus was the intersection of our course with the path of a pod of a dozen or so whales. They looked like giant dolphins. They surfaced like submarines, and had undersized dorsal fins. A couple crossed our bow, and the others swam right under the boat. All continued on their way. I learned from some later research that they were most likely Longman’s beaked whales, one of the world’s rarest cetaceans. The small village in the atoll of Kauehi, dominated by a church, is comprised of only ten families. The locals are very friendly and never pass you by without a greeting, usually a cheery iaorana (“hello/good day”). The local industry is copra, used to make coconut oil. Black pearls were once farmed here, but alas, no longer. From the middle of this large, crystal clear, super-turquoise lagoon, we were surrounded by 360 degrees of coconut palms, four miles or so in every direction. And, unbelievably, we had this very calm anchorage all to ourselves.
St. Mark’s Church, Tearavero, Kauehi, Tuamotus. The church is the center of town activity. Its bell rings often, and loudly.
The neighboring atoll of Fakarava, including its southern anchorage of Hirifa, is a lot bigger, but equally beautiful. It is a center for black-pearl farming. Many more Air Tahiti flights arrive here on a regular basis, so there are more tourists, and the locals are a bit more aloof. The internet was fairly good in the village, and the connectivity with the outside world was eerily reassuring.
“You can … grind on for miles across weirdish wild space.” Having safely negotiated all of the atoll passes chosen, the time came for the push toward Tahiti. Tito and I scooted out of the Tuamotus on a low, outgoing tide, and under sail, keeping an eye on relatively nearby atolls that we passed as the day came to an end. As darkness fell, a fair amount of light emanated from a small atoll to the north called Niau, and at about that same time, a long, flat cloud seemed to lower and conjoin with the village’s glare. Eerily, the image took on the shape of an atomic mushroom cloud, even softly glowing. It brought to mind the rumblings of activism that are taking shape nowadays throughout these Pacific islands, all the way to New Zealand. Folks want to know more about how nuclear testing in this area right up through the 1990s is now affecting their health. Some islands are obviously more affected than others. Scary stuff!
This voyage of 235 miles to Pape’ete, Tahiti, included two overnight sails. The navigation screen told us that the depth is in the vicinity of 14,000 feet! It was difficult to grasp. Tito took that depth number of 14,000 feet and turned it on its head—literally. He thought of Colorado’s “14-er” peaks, and pointed out that it was as if those huge mountains were under us, instead of majestically standing in the distance. It gave us both another unique perspective of the immensity of this ocean and this planet. There can hardly be a darker sky than in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and there are a trillion stars up there. We followed the Southern Cross every night. The Big Dipper was upside-down, and Orion was turned on his head. And the Milky Way stretched from horizon to horizon! We felt lucky to have weather that was good enough to enjoy all of this with each of our passages. Other than a pair of Bryde’s whales in the Galapagos and our Polynesian pod, we had thus far been distracted while sailing by only a few flying fish and a handful of seabirds. Besides the stars, I was entertained while on watch in the wee hours by the phosphorescence that streamed from behind the boat as we trucked along at seven or eight knots. There were myriad tiny bright “Tinkerbells” on both sides of our wake, and the wake itself sometimes produced very large globs of brightness that made my head turn.
Sunset near a black pearl shop in the village of Rotoava, Fakarava, Tuamotus. issue 62 2020
Marina Taina, one of Pape’ete's sprawling, crowded marinas and mooring fields.
Tito and I learned about the ARGO (Array for Real-Time Geostrophic Oceanography) Project on this trip. Identifiers— little diamonds with a letter C within—frequently popped up on the electronic chart as we approached some kind of object, sometimes closely. There were a lot of them! We did not know what they were when we were passing them and wondered about maybe even hitting them, but later we learned that there are roughly 3,000 ARGO devices out there, producing 100,000 temperature/salinity profiles per year. The floats descend as deep as 2,000 meters. These cylindrical, battery-operated data collectors, each with a latitude and longitude location, apparently are supported by different countries, and transmit their data to satellites when they rise close enough to the surface of the sea. We wondered if each ARGO also recorded that we sailed nearby!
waterways are filled with many fast-moving power boats, including jet skis. The marinas along the palm-fringed waterfront are quite large and are replete with sailboats of all shapes and sizes, including many super yachts. One marina alone owns 150 moorings between the reef and the channel, and every mooring is occupied or reserved into 2020. A very chic, welllighted, well-stocked Carrefour supermarket was filled with shoppers in bright, flowery clothing, each of the women with a flower tucked in behind one ear, the men tattooed. The place had a local feel, with its soundtrack of French and Tahitian, and I unexpectedly thought of a Super Publix in Miami where everybody would be speaking Spanish. The traffic on this town’s main road moves fast, too—Pape’ete’s very own U.S. Route 1. This is not what Tito remembered, nor what I expected.
“Ready for anything under the sky.”
But then there are those soaring mountains, and the hundreds of sleek outrigger canoes that filled the lagoons on the morning that we negotiated our entry to Pape’ete—confirming the fact that we definitely are not in Miami. There are as many rowing clubs along the waterfront as there are sailboat marinas. A muscular, tattooed Polynesian in a single-person outrigger canoe is a powerful sight to see, but six muscular Polynesians in one boat, all paddling fiercely in synchrony? Exponential!
During our sail west toward Tahiti, I became alarmed when I sighted land long before I expected it. My “land ho!” was met with surprise from Tito, too. We were seeing the peaks of Tahiti from 75 miles away, just after the sun had set. A double-check of all navigational aids confirmed that all was on course, all was safe, and that the highest peak on Tahiti stretches 7,500 feet. No wonder we could see it from so far out at sea! Tahiti was probably Tito’s biggest surprise in his return to the South Pacific. Pape’ete initially reminded me of Miami in many ways. It’s tropical. It’s partly cloudy. It’s hot! The 16
Tito and I felt lucky to get a slip for Bachué on the outskirts of Pape’ete. We had to Med-moor there without a gang plank ready to go, but that task just got shoved to the top of the everpresent list of things to do. Resolved in a day! Being near the
“Life’s a Great Balancing Act.” “big city” enabled us to correct two other nagging issues that were hanging over our heads: 1) stainless-steel anchor chain that had developed “crevice corrosion” just about in the middle of the length (totally replaced, immediately), and 2) the long-stay visa for French Polynesia that we thought we had in place and needed to have to return next year to the boat (required much more time and diligence, but eventually resolved). Tito and I are now official temporary residents of French Polynesia, and the owners of new galvanized anchor chain!
Bachué will spend her next months alone in a hurricane hole in Tahiti, with intermittent checks by a fellow sailor who will stay on through cyclone season. The Great Spirit willing, Tito and I will both be back on the boat in 2020, seeing a bit more of Tahiti together, and looking forward to the new adventures that the islands beyond Tahiti will bring. Moorea and Bora Bora beckon, as do places with other exotic names like Huahine, Ra’iatea, Taha’a, Niue, Tonga, and Fiji. A sailing plan will develop, as it always does, depending on time, weather, desire, and more. Options abound! ✧
“ You’re off to Great Places! … So... get on your way!”
Photo by Sky Smith.
About the Author Renée Athey and her husband, Tito Vargas (FLA), met and lived in Cartagena, Colombia, where Renée was a Peace Corps volunteer. In the early days, they sailed the southwestern corner of the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, then relocated to St. Petersburg, Florida, where Renée’s family lived and where she had a brief stint as a sailmaker, followed by a career in education. Renée and Tito spent many years racing sailboats on Tampa Bay and in the Gulf of Mexico. They brought up their son, Mateo, in the youth sailing program, volunteering and traveling with him around the world to compete in regattas. They cruised as a family in Florida, the Bahamas, and Mexico. Renée and Tito’s longtime connection with Panama was renewed more recently with a couple of years of “commuter cruising” on both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of the country. Renée always finds herself with more than enough material for her writing and photography. Wherever they sail, Renée and Tito regularly return home to Florida and do their best to fit in time to ski in Colorado. Bachué, a 54-foot Hanse built in 2009, has been a dry and comfortable home away from home for the past decade of adventure on the high seas. They are pictured here with their son Mateo in San Cristobal, Galapagos.
issue 62 2020
Class 40s at the 2019 Bermuda start. Photo by Zdenka Seiner Griswold (BOS/GMP).
by Gust Stringos, Boston Station, Gulf of Maine Post
ROM JOSHUA SLOCUM TO JE A NNE Socrates (SFO) to Jessica Watson, from the first Golden Globe Race to the last Vendee Globe, singlehanded sailing is a long-established tradition among cruising and racing sailors. The Bermuda 1-2, organized by the Newport Yacht Club and the St. George’s Dinghy and Sports Club, is the premier East Coast race for single-handed sailors. It has been sailed biennially since 1977 and combines a singlehanded leg with a double-handed return, with awards for best times in each leg, plus combined time. Per the Notice of Race, “The Bermuda 1-2 is intended to be a sporting event encouraging seamanship, competition, and
fellowship among offshore sailors of all nationalities, in the tradition of short-handed sailing and passage making. While recognizing the inherent danger in the sport, the Bermuda 1-2 is organized so as to emphasize, to promote, and to encourage development of techniques, equipment, and technology which will foster safe and seamanlike short-handed sailing.” I was happy to be able to join the 2019 race, my sixth. I would once again be sailing on Bluebird, a Morris Justine 36. I find that the anticipation of and preparation for the race helps the long Maine winter pass more quickly. One pays great attention to weather and Gulf Stream patterns. Spring launching is followed quickly with boat-race prep, safety
The Joys of Single-Handed Sailing: Report from the 2019 Bermuda 1-2 Bluebird and Corvus, neck and neck at the start of the 2019 second leg. Photo by Zdenka Seiner Griswold.
*For more information on the Bermuda 1-2, see bermuda1-2.org*
prep, provisioning, and finally, the delivery from Maine to Newport for an early June start.
Single-handed Leg The race attracted an initial fleet of over 30 boats, ranging from Class 40s to open 6.5 Minis, with racer-cruisers and cruisers of various sizes in between, divided in six classes. After the usual pre-start attrition, the fleet had dropped to 28 boats. The race began with a spinnaker run out of Narragansett Bay in a dying northeast breezeâ€”the last time we would go downwind! Outside of the bay, the wind came from the southeast, making for a tight reach/beat toward the Gulf Stream and Bermuda. At first, conditions were moderate, but the wind
gradually picked up into the 20-plus knot range, with building waves causing lots of pounding. This was not at all severe, but uncomfortable and hard on the boats. It certainly contributed to the various damage that caused eight boats to turn around and retire, including autopilot failures, rigging problems, and rudder problems. The race fairly quickly exposes weaknesses in both boats and skippers. On Bluebird, all remained well except for failure of my Iridium Go!, which eliminated getting weather reports, position updates, and messages from home. However, the race encourages communication between boats, so I wasnâ€™t totally isolated. After a relatively benign Gulf Stream crossing, the wind shifted to the southwest, giving Bluebird a smooth sail to Bermuda and the finish.
Environmental Notes While it is difficult to draw conclusions based on a few trips a few years apart, it seemed to me that we were seeing a great issue 62 ď‚˛ 2020
Getting ready for the start of the second leg, St. George’s, Bermuda. Photo by Zdenka Seiner Griswold.
Bluebird at the start of the 2017 double-handed leg in Bermuda. Photo by Jan Stringos.
The North Atlantic Gyre is also the home of the “great garbage patch” of floating plastic. Unfortunately, the sargassum mats apparently trap degrading microplastics, with unknown effects to the environment (but I think we can assume that the effects are not good).
Wildlife I encountered the usual Gulf Stream suspects: Portuguese Man O’ War jellyfish, sometimes sailing past a becalmed Bluebird. Flying fish flopping on deck. Wilson’s storm petrels crying in the dark. Iridescent Bermuda longtails shimmering on the approach to the finish.
increase in the amount of sargassum weed in the vicinity of the Gulf Stream. Sargassum is a floating seaweed that grows in large mats in the Sargasso Sea, the center of the North Atlantic Gyre. Bermuda is at the western edge of the sea, which extends all of the way to the Azores. Most sailboats can go through the mats, but boats with large appendages, such as the Class 40s, find that it can foul their keels and rudders. With warming ocean temperatures, amounts of sargassum have apparently greatly increased, to the point that many beaches in Mexico, the Caribbean, and Florida can become foul and unusable. On the other hand, the weed mats support lots of life— baby sea turtles hide in them, and American and European eels are born in them, then travel as larvae to U.S. and European rivers and streams, arriving as baby glass eels or elvers. Years later, if they survive fishermen and predators, the mature eels travel thousands of miles back to the Sargasso Sea to spawn and die. 20
On the return leg, just at the continental shelf, we came upon what must have been an upwelling of small fish and nutrients from the depths. Seabirds were diving in a feeding frenzy. Pods of porpoises circled schools of fish. Most exciting of all, countless pairs of finback whales breached all around us, as far as we could see.
Double-handed Leg After a week of rest and recovery on wonderful Bermuda, I was joined by my co-captain, John Priestley, for the return leg. The weather reports were not favorable, with a forecast of strong winds on the nose. Unfortunately, unlike our cruising friends, we cannot put off the start until things look nicer! We started inside the cut at St. George’s and headed out into a 20-knot southwesterly, which eventually shifted to the northwest and picked up to 30 knots. This was combined with a very tight Gulf Stream meander that did not have an obvious good entry and exit point. We were quite seasick the first two days (common for me, but unusual for John!). The wind, waves, and current set us quite far to the
“In today’s world, we don’t get many opportunities to really stretch ourselves. We don’t get time to be by ourselves. We don’t take a break from Morris Justine skippers: Walter Rush, Gryphon; Chris Terajewicz (BOS), Corvus; and the author.
the mind-numbing pulse of the news. The race provides a healthy antidote to all of that.”
east, which would have been very nice if we were headed to Nova Scotia! The winds eventually moderated, and we recovered and got more or less back on course. We were fairly close to our Class 4 competitors and a few other boats. Then, about 170 nautical miles from Newport, our starter short-circuited and combusted. This put us into energy-saving mode, hand-steering rather than using the autopilot. The next morning, still a long way from Newport, the wind died and the weather prediction was for continued very light conditions. Other boats calculated their estimated arrival times, found it to be too long, and decided to start their engines and withdraw. Since we didn’t have that option, we continued to claw along on whatever breeze we could find. We eventually did have a great 12 hours in a 15-knot breeze with spinnaker up, bringing us into coastal waters. Finally, in a light breeze, dodging fishing boats, we ghosted across the finish line, sailed up to Newport, and were towed into the harbor, docking just before dark. In this race of attrition, we were the only finishers in Class 4.
Final Thoughts Being by yourself for five or six days, one experiences many emotional ups and downs, from elation when feeling that you are sailing well, to despair when stuck in an eddy or calm that
you think everyone else has avoided. You feel energized when the sun or moon rises out of the sea and apathetic at other times, unrelated to the general fatigue that one feels most of the time. Just moving about the boat, going from handhold to handhold when conditions are rough, requires lots of concentration. Harnesses and tethers become uncomfortable and hamper movement—but they stay on. One gets cold, seasick, and very tired. You and the boat get very beat up. So why keep doing this? In today’s world, we don’t get many opportunities to really stretch ourselves. We don’t get time to be by ourselves. We don’t take a break from the mind-numbing pulse of the news. The race provides a healthy antidote to all of that. Before and during the race, one has to work on physical, but especially mental, preparation—patience, stamina, and pacing. Especially on the solo leg, it’s an exercise in mindfulness. Finally, while the sailors are all very competitive, we know that we are all there for each other, ready to help, and that this bond is much more important than winning. Sometimes, the help takes the form of a heroic rescue; more often, it is simply standing by, giving emotional support over the VHF. A tremendous feeling of camaraderie and bonding develops. I haven’t experienced this in too many other situations. I look forward to the next race! 2
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Gust Stringos lives in Central Maine, where he has worked for more than 30 years as a family-practice physician. He and his wife, Jan, sail their Morris Justine 36, Bluebird, out of Rockland, Maine, exploring the coast from Cape Cod to Nova Scotia to Bermuda, but mostly enjoying their home waters of Penobscot Bay. In 2005-06, they sailed around the Atlantic via the Azores, Madeira, Canary Islands, Caribbean, and the Bahamas. They are pictured here in St. George’s, Bermuda. Gust is looking forward to his 13th Bermuda race in June 2020. issue 62 2020
“This race is typically dominated by the Pacific High,
a high-pressure weather system which brings light winds that can often impact the rhumb-line course to Hawaii.
The 50th Transpac on a 55-Year-Old Classic by Steve Calhoun, Southern California Station
ach year, lucky sailors have the opportunity to race from California to the beautiful Hawaiian Islands. In odd years, the Transpacific Yacht Race (Transpac) starts from Point Fermin, just outside the Port of Los Angeles, and finishes off Diamond Head on Oahu. In even years, the Pacific Cup starts within a few yards of the St. Francis Yacht Club on the shore of San Francisco Bay and finishes at Kāneˊohe Bay on the northeast side of Oahu. Both races are downwind nearly all the way, and at the finish all sailors are greeted in paradise with a mai tai and Hawaiian lei.
Above: Typical sunset in the Pacific. Left: Transpac rhumb line.
Above: Bill Edwards driving Psyche under full spinnaker, with a rainbow to guide him. Top right: Bill Wright, ready for a cold and wet night as Psyche leaves the California coast.
Yacht racing to Hawaii started back in 1906 with the very first Transpacific Yacht Race. This year was the 50th running of the race (no race occurred for a number of years during WWII), and being somewhat of a milestone, attracted a large fleet of 90 yachts, ranging in length from 33 to 100 feet. The 2,250nautical-mile course has only two marks—the west end of Catalina Island and the finish line at the Diamond Head buoy. I don’t know if there is a more beautiful finish to a yacht race than speeding by Diamond Head under full spinnaker! This was my third Transpac on my Cal 40, Psyche. I have owned this classic 1965 speedster since 1988 and previously raced her in 2005 (third in class) and 2007 (first in class). Psyche and Cal 40s have been connected to the grand history of the Transpac since 1965, when she was the overall winner on corrected time with her then-owner, Don Salisbury, who was a member of the Southern California Station. That was the first year Cal 40s sailed in the Transpac, and thus began a long tradition of Cal 40 participation in every race since. Southern California Station member George Griffith came up with the concept for the Cal 40: a relatively lightweight fiberglass hull, flat underbody, fin keel, and spade rudder. These were new innovations for a larger boat. George went to his good friend and naval architect C. William Lapworth, also of the SOC at the time, to put the concept and design to paper, and then to Jack Jensen, of Jensen Marine, to build them. Over 155 boats and 56 years later, there is still strong interest in Cal 40s, particularly on the West Coast but in other parts of the country as well. It’s sort of the equivalent of a 1965 Mustang in the sailing world!
The Transpac is a great yacht race, and the favorite of many sailors. The first few days you are into the teeth of westerly winds and large swells that make it a rough, wet, and uncomfortable ride. But experienced Transpac racers know with certainty that the wind will clock to the north and then even more to the east, allowing headsails to be eased and spinnakers to be set. From that point until you see the Diamond Head finish, it’s a beautiful sleigh ride with the warm trade winds at your back as you move from a latitude of 33˚ N to 21˚ N. The discomfort and damp foul weather gear are quickly forgotten, knowing that soon enough, going downwind to Hawaii will bring some of the best sailing there is. A Cal 40 is a seaworthy and comfortable offshore boat. The pilot and quarter berths are snug and somewhat out of the way of cabin activity, allowing the off-watch to sleep relatively well. Unlike some of the large volume cabins of modern boats, adequate handholds are everywhere and in a rough seaway, you don’t get knocked around too much. The Cal 40 is also well designed ergonomically, with the angles in the cockpit thoughtfully designed to allow you to wedge yourself in when steering. With cabin top winches, the spinnaker trimmer can stand in the companionway while easily communicating with the helmsman, steering the traditional varnished wood tiller from the forward end of the cockpit. On Psyche, it has always been my mantra to keep things simple. She has no pressure water, no hot water heater, and until about four years ago, no refrigeration. By keeping systems simple, they are easier to repair at sea, and more importantly, less likely to break down in the first place. Psyche has upgraded LED running and house lights which draw minimum amps, and there is no TV or entertainment center. During an offshore race, I can usually charge the house battery bank (four 100-amp batteries) by running the engine in neutral for two-and-a-half issue 62 2020
Our Teva afterguy shackle fix.
“We racked our brains to come up with a substitute that we could fabricate from what material we had on the boat.” to three hours, while still making eight gallons per hour of fresh water from the reverse osmosis watermaker. For offshore races, we have found it best to go with a crew of five. This allows the right number on deck for sail changes and gybes as well as providing sufficient off-watch time. We always have two crew on deck, one driving and the other trimming, while the remaining three are off-watch or dealing with other boat duties. Every hour during the night and every two hours in daytime, we bring someone fresh on deck and send another crew member off watch. Typically, no one drives longer than half an hour at a time. We have found this watch system keeps everyone alert, and no one gets too fatigued from one assignment for too long. The result is that we are able to minimize mistakes that can cost precious time during a race. In addition to myself as skipper, the crew for this year’s race consisted of Jim Barber (SOC), Bill Wright, Scott Barber, and Bill Edwards. Jim Barber and Bill Wright sailed with me on Psyche in the 2005 and 2007 Transpacs. They are both great friends and great sailors. I would go anywhere on a boat with either of them. Jim’s father, Don Barber, was a longtime SOC member as well. Bill Wright’s father, Howard W. Wright, Jr, and his grandfather, Howard W. Wright, were also SOC members. Scott Barber and Bill Edwards represented the millennial generation in our crew. They are young and full of energy. Scott is the son of Jim Barber. Scott and Bill Edwards handled the mast and bow duties for all maneuvers, with Jim, Bill Wright, and 24
me working everything else from the cockpit. After a good deal of pre-race sailing on Psyche for the prior six months, everyone knew their specific duty for every maneuver and had done it many times before, so there were very few surprises. In a race of this duration (12 to 15 days), wear and tear on sails and other equipment is a big concern. Twice a day, we checked the entire boat from bow to stern, looking for chafe, metal fatigue, or anything else that could signal a future problem. By being proactive, we were able to minimize equipment failure, with a few exceptions. In planning for a long-distance race, we selectively pack extra gear, parts, and equipment to make repairs, but don’t want to bring too much, as that is additional weight to carry across the ocean. One gear failure we had was the afterguy shackle guards. Both port and starboard broke apart and, unfortunately, we had not brought replacements. We racked our brains to come up with a substitute that we could fabricate from what material we had on the boat. Our solution was to use the sole from a pair of Teva sandals. We used a hacksaw to cut the front end of the sandal into an oval, then a Leatherman multi-tool to core a hole in the center where the afterguy line snugly fit. This “MacGyver” solution worked perfectly for the rest of the race. In fact, we thought that the afterguy shackle guards we made from the Teva sandals were as good as the original ones that had broken apart!
“ This year we had solid wind from the start, and were able to get into the synoptic wind by early morning on Thursday, July 11.
Pulling away from the starting line. issue 62 2020
When owning a yacht that is more than 50 years old, there is always maintenance, refurbishment, and redo work to be done. In the 1990s and early 2000s, I upgraded many things on the boat, including: New diesel engine New stainless-steel diesel tank New Lewmar forward, main cabin, and lazarette hatches New propeller shaft New rudder (same area but skinnier and deeper) New B&G sailing instruments Rewiring of the electrical system New boom New standing rigging New Adler Barbour electric refrigeration system Reinsulation of refrigerator/cold-box area New stainless-steel double stanchions, lifelines, and pulpits But in 2012, after 24 years of owning Psyche, I decided it was time for a more extensive refit. I had noticed some water seeping in slightly at the hull-deck joint. Obviously, materials in 1963–64 were not as good as those available today, and this had been an area of moisture or water seepage on many of the boats. By reglassing this joint, it eliminated that issue and created a stiffer hull. However, that job impacted many other areas of the boat. The toe rail had to come off, and the original non-skid pattern was destroyed. The result was that all deck and cabin trunk surfaces were ground down, and a new non-skid layout and two-part linear polyurethane (LP) applied. Other work included, but was not limited to: New chain plates and bow/stern tangs, all with G-10 backing New thru hulls and seacocks All below-waterline plumbing replaced New cockpit drains and hoses New teak toe rail fabricated and installed with all new fasteners New teak cockpit coaming This refit project took almost six months, but the end result was a much-improved boat. The new hull-to-deck joint is 100 percent dry, the boat is a bit stiffer, and with new teak toe rails, cockpit coaming, and LP paint job, she looks like she just came off the assembly line. Psyche is hopefully good for another 50 years! For this year’s Transpac, eight Cal 40s originally signed up. That was going to make for a great showing of this venerable class, though less than the 14 that were on the starting line in 2005. But six weeks before the start, one dropped out, and then another three weeks later. We were left with six, three from southern California and three from northern California. I knew three of the boats well and knew they would be tough 26
Jim Barber (SOC) and son Scott moving Psyche along at full speed.
competition. I assumed the other two also had the potential to win the class. Our start was on Wednesday, July 10, at 1300 Pacific Standard Time, along with four other classes, for a total of 33 yachts. It was one long starting line, with a nice 10- to 12-knot westerly blowing. We found a good position at the pin end and were able to get away from the starting line fairly well. In Transpacs 2005 and 2007, we encountered unusually light winds for the first few days, slowing us down as we got away from the California coast. This year we had solid wind from the start, and were able to get into the synoptic wind by early morning on Thursday, July 11. We moved along very well for the first few days, changing down from a number one genoa to a number three jib, then to a jibtop, and, finally, to a code 3A, before setting a symmetrical spinnaker. As we expected, the first few days were wet and rough in strong winds, with foul-weather gear, safety harnesses, and PFDs required on all watches. By the end of the second day, the Cal 40 Nalu V was forced to withdraw due to unknown water ingress. As the race progressed, it appeared that the keen competition was among Azure, Callisto, Psyche, and Viva. We were clustered close to each other, with the fifth Cal 40, Highlander, falling a bit behind. This race is typically dominated by the Pacific High, a highpressure weather system which brings light winds that can often impact the rhumb-line course to Hawaii. Consequently, one of the big decisions is to determine how far south of the rhumb line to sail so as to avoid these light winds, even though it means sailing additional miles to Hawaii. Everyone has different strategies to deal with this, but the decision needs to be made early on, before boats get into what world-class navigator and fellow Cal 40 owner Stan Honey (SFO) calls the “slot cars” portion of the race. Through the middle of the race (July 15–17), Psyche had migrated further south, away from the rhumb line, where there appeared to be more wind and potentially better gybe
Crew celebrates at the finish.
angles. While we were still behind the leader at the time, Viva, we had significantly reduced the separation. By the afternoon of July 18, we were still in the hunt with Azure, Callisto, and Viva, but stayed on starboard pole about six hours too long before gybing onto port pole. That cost us about 20 miles in a mere 24 hours! At that point, we had to play “follow the leader” and couldn’t make up the difference to be a serious contender. Callisto, sailed by brothers Park (SOC) and James Eddy (SOC) and navigated by Kerry Deaver (SOC)—all my good friends— skillfully worked into first place and pulled away from the rest of the class. At the finish on the night of July 21, Psyche was fourth, about 5½ hours behind Callisto. We completed the race in approximately 12½ days, a fairly fast race for us, compared to just under 14 days in 2005 and almost 15½ in 2007. We sailed the boat well and had good boat speed, but made some strategic decisions that in hindsight, we should have analyzed differently. But that is yacht racing! The good news is that the crew had a great time together and all of us would immediately sign up again to sail an offshore race together. Racing your own boat in a long-distance offshore race takes months of preparation and focus on the part of the entire crew, and requires planning everything to the last detail. But it is also a lot of fun and very rewarding! Everyone continues to ask me, will I do it again on Psyche? And my response is always, “Who knows? Never say never!”
About the Author Steve Calhoun is a Southern California native and has lived near the Pacific Ocean all of his life. He has been married to his first mate, Amanda, for 40 years. They live in Palos Verdes Estates, California, a 15-minute drive to their Cal 40, Psyche, in Los Angeles harbor. He and Amanda have raised their three daughters on Psyche, sailing up and down the California coast. They frequent the Channel Islands, off the southern California coast. Steve is a member of Los Angeles Yacht Club and the Transpacific Yacht Club.
issue 62 2020
Farewell, Scandinavia: Ithaka Always in Our Minds by Ernie Godshalk, Boston Station, with Ann Noble-Kiley, Boston Station Winners of the Club’s 2018 Royal Cruising Club Trophy
Golden Eye’s name derives from a passage in Homer’s ancient tale, The Odyssey (Pope translation) And now, rejoicing in the prosperous gales, With beating heart Ulysses spreads his sails; Placed at the helm he sate, and mark’d the skies, Nor closed in sleep his ever-watchful eyes. There view’d the Pleiades, and the Northern Team, And great Orion’s more refulgent beam. To which, around the axle of the sky, The Bear, revolving, points his golden eye: Who shines exalted on the ethereal plain, Nor bathes his blazing forehead in the main.
Lofoten island chain, looking northeast. issue 62 2020
AN UNPLANNED ODYSSEY “You know what we’ve never done?” said my friend of 40 years, Doug Adkins (PNW), with whom I had sailed regularly in New England, the Pacific Northwest, and the Caribbean. “Hmm?” I replied, warily. “We’ve never sailed transatlantic!” “Hmmm.” An image of Tom Sawyer and a whitewashed fence passed mysteriously through my mind. It took me a while to realize that he was proposing sailing my boat, Golden Eye, across the pond. And it was well after I agreed that it occurred to me that, after the crossing, Golden Eye would end up in Europe. Thus began, in 2008, a ten-year odyssey, leading to places that were not, and could not have been, planned.
SETTING OUT The crossing itself, in 2010, with Doug, Brodie MacGregor (BOS/BUZ), and my brother, Bob, went reasonably smoothly. From Manchester-by-the-Sea, we set out for Oban, Scotland. We took a knockdown and hove to for 24 hours, but otherwise,
the three-week passage was uneventful, although weather (and the now-retired weather guru, Herb Hilgenberg) persuaded us to divert to Kinsale, Ireland. We reached Scotland via the Irish Sea. “Landfall” was made in 1.5 meters of water—Golden Eye draws 1.7 meters. And my 10-gauge saluting cannon was “detained” by the Scottish authorities (see Don’t Take Your Guns to Sea, Voyages, Issue 55, 2013). But the single malts were fabulous.
Ithaka by C.P. Cavafy As you set out for Ithaka hope that your journey is a long one, full of adventure, full of discovery. Laestrygonians and Cyclops, angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them: you’ll never find things like that on your way as long as you keep your thoughts raised high, as long as a rare sensation touches your spirit and your body. Laestrygonians and Cyclops, wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them unless you bring them along inside your soul, unless your soul sets them up in front of you. Hope that your journey is a long one. May there be many summer mornings when, with what pleasure, what joy, you come into harbors you’re seeing for the first time; may you stop at Phoenician trading stations to buy fine things, mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind— as many sensual perfumes as you can; and may you visit many Egyptian cities to learn and learn again from those who know. Keep Ithaka always in your mind. Arriving there is what you’re destined for. But don’t hurry the journey at all. Better if it lasts for years, so that you’re old by the time you reach the island, wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way, not expecting Ithaka to make you rich. Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey. Without her you would have not set out. She has nothing left to give you now. And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you. Wise as you will have become, so full of experience, you’ll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.
Clockwise from above: Stefan Holmgren, past commodore of the Royal Gothenburg Yacht Club; Royal Gothenberg Yacht Club Commodore Casselbrant; Royal Swedish Yacht Club Commodore Salén; the author with Royal Norwegian Yacht Club Commodore Agerup; Danish friend Kay Skyt.
Having joined the 2010 Clyde Cruising Club Centenary Cruise and cruised the magnificent Hebrides, Golden Eye wintered at Silvers Marine near Glasgow. I then came face-to-face with life’s most eternal question: “Now what?”
A FORK IN THE ROAD At the CCA ski gam in 2011, I mentioned to past commodore Ross Sherbrooke (BOS) that I was considering a summer cruise in the Baltic. “In that case, you must become a member of the North American Station of the Royal Scandinavian Yacht Clubs and Nyländska Jaktklubben!” he said. Despite my quizzical look, after making a brief phone call, he announced my membership. By the middle of May, we were transiting the Caledonian Canal across Scotland—sailing through a brief snow-squall—bound for Scandinavia. (Three years later, I became post captain of the NAS.) During the next ten summers, we explored Scandinavia from north of the Arctic Circle to St. Petersburg, with one summer’s diversion to Brittany. Alas, in 2020 we will leave that wonderful area—farewell, Scandinavia! For those considering the same cruising grounds, here is what one may expect.
PEOPLE The highlight of the past ten years in Europe—not explicitly planned but the subjects of some of my favorite photos—is the family and friends who have joined us and the people we have met. In addition to my three children, two sons-in-law, granddaughter, brother, sister-in-law on several occasions, and Ann Noble-Kiley (BOS) for the past seven years, many CCA friends have come aboard, and a couple of hundred more joined the Stockholm Archipelago Cruise that I led along with David Tunick (NYS). I have become friends with over a dozen present and past commodores of the five largest Nordic yacht clubs that the NAS represents and many of the clubs’ members. We have visited their homes, clubs, and harbors; cruised in company and raced with and against them; and many of them have visited us in the U.S.—friends for life. I’ve even dined with the queen of Denmark (and several hundred of her other friends from the Royal Danish Yacht Club). Despite our enjoyment of guests aboard, we have slowly reduced their number. It is fun to have them share our experiences, but they need to be collected from and delivered to airports on a schedule, which may conflict with weather, boat maintenance, or a desire to remain someplace for another day.
PLACES In fact, our greatest challenge has been the tension between wanting to get to the next enticing location and exploring a issue 62 2020
Above: Ann Noble-Kiley in the Lofoten islands, Norway. Left: Sunsets, sunsets!—on Sweden’s west coast. Opposite page left: Golden Eye on the Swedish west coast; right: Swedish dockage, with Tom and Pat Foley (BOS/BUZ).
contains 30,000 islands, thousands of anchorages, and many unbuoyed rocks. Due to its proximity to the beautiful city of Stockholm, it has substantial infrastructure including marinas, stores, and restaurants. The island of Sandhamn is “Yachting Central,” the island sailing headquarters of the Royal Swedish Yacht Club (KSSS). During July 2019, the CCA, in partnership with the North American Station and KSSS, cruised here for two weeks with 235 sailors on 42 boats, visiting a dozen harbors from Stockholm onward. place in greater depth or getting to know new friends better wherever we happen to be. Despite this, another highlight has been the variety of places we have visited. Most spectacular is the west coast of Norway. During two summers there, we reached the Lofoten islands at 68˚ north, 150 miles north of the Arctic Circle and 700 miles north of Lindesnes at Norway’s southern tip. In the process, we ventured as far as 100 miles inland into the major fjords, which afford dramatic views of the mountains and glaciers. The Stockholm Archipelago occupies an area about the size of Long Island Sound or the Strait of Georgia, but it 32
The east coast south of Stockholm has its own archipelagos, including the gorgeous St. Anna Archipelago. Offshore lies one of my favorites, Gotland, with its attractive, former Hanseatic League city of Visby. The west coast of Sweden is another extensive, 120-mile-long cruising area that includes thousands of islands such as Marstrand, a natural amphitheater for Royal Gothenburg Yacht Club match-racing events. The two coasts are connected by the Göta Canal: spanning 200 miles and 68 locks, it passes through Lake Vänern, the largest lake in the European Union, site of the imposing Läckö Castle, and itself a major cruising ground; Lake Vättern, Sweden’s second largest lake; and farmland.
“Navigation through shallow and rock-strewn channels depends upon an intricate system of leading marks.” The Åland Islands lie in the Baltic, between Sweden and the mainland of Finland. The area is a beautiful and challenging one in which to sail, with 6,500 islands and only 25,000 residents. The islands are somewhat remote, 50–70 miles from the nearest city. The waters are totally protected from seas. There are thousands of anchorages. Navigation through shallow and rock-strewn channels depends upon an intricate system of leading marks. While politically part of Finland, the Åland Islands are semi-autonomous, with their own flag, government, and customs. The islanders speak Swedish, and all communications between the Åland Islands and the Finnish government are in Swedish. As in other parts of the Baltic, there are no tides, which makes it possible to tie the bow directly to rocks. The water is not particularly salty, and local sailors typically bathe in the sea in the morning. The mainland of Finland, primarily between Turku and Helsinki, has a similar, breathtaking archipelago. Helsinki is a very attractive destination and home to Finland’s largest, and oldest, yacht club, Nyländska Jaktklubben (NJK), of which I have become a member. NJK members have access to a dozen private harbors, each with docking and onshore facilities, many including a wood-fired and rainwater-supplied sauna. The interior of Finland contains an extensive, navigable system of lakes, 76 meters above sea level. The only access to the lakes is via a canal reached by entering Russian waters, an adventure in itself, which involves transiting eight locks and reentering Finland. The lakes are pristine and protected by strong environmental regulations and facilities. Savonlina, Finland’s opera center, is an island and fort that we reached after three days’ sail from the canal.
St. Petersburg is unlike any other city. Ann tackled the challenging paperwork for boat and crew with help from Vladimir Ivankiv, who has helped hundreds of sailors from the CCA and other clubs navigate the bureaucratic hurdles. We officially cleared into Russia at the formerly Swedish port of Vyborg, where we received contrasting versions of Russian hospitality, and then proceeded 75 miles to the Russian naval base of Kronshtadt, which guards St. Petersburg. The city, including a stay in an elegant hotel, lived up to our high expectations. We visited Moscow by train on the day after President Trump met with President Putin in Helsinki. Leaving St. Petersburg, we were greeted by the arriving Russian Navy. Estonia is an easy stop when visiting Helsinki or St. Petersburg. After being devastated in World War II, the walled, main city of Tallinn has been attractively restored. It is home to a high-tech community that includes the original software operations of Skype. Denmark, while not as dramatic topographically as Norway or even Sweden, has its own charm and interesting history. Copenhagen—home to the Little Mermaid statue right on the harbor—is appealing, and it is possible to tie up right downtown in comfortable surroundings. Denmark’s many islands are low, but the architecture and hollyhocks are charming. The tiny island of Christiansø, formerly a significant military site, is especially delightful. Marstal, on the island of Ærø, has been an important seaport for centuries. It is also home to We, the Drowned author Carsten Jensen, who welcomes visitors to the town. The English Channel is reached from the Baltic via the busy Kiel Canal, built by the German Kaiser Wilhelm in issue 62 2020
Golden Eye with gennaker.
“The islands are lovely, but the tides and currents are stupendous, up to 13 meters (40 feet) and ten knots respectively. ” the late 19th century to enable his rapidly growing navy to reach the world’s oceans without traversing the Kattegat and Skagerrak, controlled by Denmark. Alternatively, one may use its predecessor, the Eider River, which is more scenic and less traveled, though prominent in the sailors’ classic, Erskine Childers’ The Riddle of the Sands. The North Sea coasts of Germany and Belgium are uninteresting, shoal, and exposed to frequently stormy weather. By contrast, the English Channel coasts of England and France are fascinating and inviting to yachtsmen. We visited the Solent, surrounding the Isle of Wight, and the Royal Yacht Squadron, “one of the most prestigious and exclusive yacht clubs in the world,” according to its website. While cruising to and from Brittany, we spent two winters in the Netherlands. The Frisian Islands, off the coast of Germany and the Netherlands, were the site of much of the action in The Riddle of the Sands. The “stand mast” route enables a sailboat to transit inland from Germany to Belgium with the mast up. Tolls are often collected using a wooden shoe suspended from a fishing pole. Competition for space in the locks can be intense. Normandy and Brittany, on the north and west coasts of France, offer charming harbors, excellent food and wine, and exceptional tides and currents. From Cherbourg, one may easily visit Mont St. Michel and the beaches and cemeteries of the D-Day landing. Just west of Cherbourg lie the Channel Islands. The islands are lovely, but the tides and currents are stupendous, up to 13 meters (40 feet) and ten knots respectively. While daunting, they may be used to advantage, both in finding anchorage at neap lows in places that the charts indicate to be dry at chart datum, and in making extraordinary over-theground speeds. Our favorite cruising ground in Brittany was on the west coast, south of Brest. In addition to the lovely harbors and islands, we enjoyed venturing up the major rivers until even Golden Eye’s shallow, centerboard draft could go no further— and then we often continued by bicycle, including nights ashore well inland. The highlight of Brittany, and the southern extreme of our cruising, was the small, beautiful, almost-landlocked Bay of Morbihan.
LITERATURE While visiting these diverse places, we found that reading about them—especially history or historical fiction—enhanced our appreciation of both the places and the books. A few books that were especially enticing: Peter the Great: His Life and Work by Robert Massie, which illuminates not only the impact of the czar’s reign and how the
challenges he faced persist today, but also the vast influence of Sweden on the region at the time. Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers, a sailing-based work of fiction, which is sometimes referred to as the first spy novel. It is set in the very real environment of the pre-World World II buildup of Germany’s navy. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, a novel set in Germany and St. Malo in World War II. Oyster River: One Summer on an Inland Sea by George Millar, an account of a mid-20th-century cruise in the Bay of Morbihan and the Oyster River. Death in Brittany by Jean-Luc Bannalec, a mystery novel set in modern Pont Aven. It describes the sense in Brittany, which survives to this day, that it is not really part of Parisdominated France. We, the Drowned by Carsten Jensen, historical fiction covering 400 years of Danish seafaring. The Sandhamn Murders series by Viveca Sten, set in Sandhamn and the environs of Stockholm, which evokes regular exclamations from the traveled reader: “I’ve been there!” We also enjoyed watching the 1964 Catherine Deneuve film, Les Parapluies de Cherbourg, and visiting sites which appeared in the movie.
CULTURES The cultures of the various countries are a delightful experience. Norway’s national day, May 17, brings out the entire population in traditional dress, flags in hand. Midsommar, the biggest holiday in the Scandinavian countries, focuses on family, and usually involves retreating to the ubiquitous summer house. A key feature of this celebration is the communal construction of the “midsommar pole,” a ritual which includes gathering flowers and greens to decorate the pole. The pole is then hoisted into position, and an elaborate luncheon, music, and dancing follow. Later in the summer, crayfish come into season, accompanied by “crayfish parties,” seeming to the uninitiated to be a combination of Halloween, a child’s birthday party, and a wonderful, clambake-style dinner of good food, akvavit, and singing. In Finland and elsewhere in Scandinavia, the sauna is an important part of the day. Even on small islands, we found saunas, heated by wood, and rainwater for bathing. All were located at the seaside, so that a cooling bath could be alternated with the sauna’s dry, near-boiling-point temperatures.
LOGISTICS There are some logistical considerations to cruising in northern Europe. If the vessel remains in the EU for 18 months, it may issue 62 2020
Above: Ann enjoys moules in Normandy. Top right: Dutch canal. Right: Impromptu lock party in the Netherlands.
be subject to a significant Value Added Tax (VAT). Our practice was to leave the EU periodically for non-EU countries such as Norway or Russia, which restarts the clock. Non-EU crew may stay in Schengen Area countries (a group of states which overlaps with the EU, but is somewhat different) for only 90 out of any 180 consecutive days, unless a longer stay is approved. Language is rarely a problem, although I did get an unusual haircut due to my lack of Danish. Electricity is 240V/50Hz, so accommodation for that is needed. Boatyards are good and no more expensive than elsewhere, although they may charge 25 percent VAT. Weather is good in the summer, and weather forecasting is not only excellent but easily accessible. Anchoring in the tideless waters of the Baltic often includes using a stern anchor with the bow tied directly to rocks, or even simply lying alongside the rocks. In canals, many of the locks are small and self-operated. Cooking gas is a challenge as each country has its own, incompatible-with-others, fittings. Local transportation— whether train, bus, ferry, Uber, taxi, or rental car—is generally very convenient.
FOOD Dining is generally an outstanding experience. In most of Scandinavia, it is helpful to like salmon, cod, shrimp, and herring—which we do—and not be too wedded to beef. Akvavit or “snaps” (and singing) is indispensable with herring. Crayfish season is the time not only for great crayfish, but for a crayfish party. France offers the best oysters and wine in the world, along with crabs, bigorneaux, and moules; Germany, the best pork; and Holland, the best cheese. Russia has caviar and blinis. In most restaurants, food and wine are expensive. 36
BOATS Many of the boats in northern Europe are spectacular. The most elegant among these are the “skerry cruisers” of Scandinavia and Sparkman & Stephens yawls. The unique vessels of Holland, while not as graceful, are often exquisitely adorned and maintained.
MUSIC We often found music. Whenever a group of Scandinavians gather, there is singing, often related to imbibing akvavit. We also enjoyed opera, Dixieland, Grieg, organ music, and a variety of other performances.
CRUISES While much of our cruising was done alone, on our own schedule, we also enjoyed the many sailing organizations with which we became involved. After an invitation was issued to members of the CCA, we joined the Clyde Cruising Club Centenary Cruise.
The 2019 Stockholm Archipelago Cruise came about as a result of the joint efforts of the CCA, the North American Station, and the Royal Swedish Yacht Club. The NAS has also run cruises in Finland and Denmark. I have become a member of the Royal Norwegian Yacht Club and Nyländska Jaktklubben, and we enjoyed the camaraderie of their members and use of their harbors and facilities. The Ocean Cruising Club has designated me as Roving Rear Commodore—Baltic and we have availed ourselves of the hospitality of the OCC’s port officers in several countries and ports. The Royal Yacht Squadron has also opened its doors and facilities to us. It has been wonderful making friends with like-minded sailors in these countries and clubs.
ON TO ITHAKA? WE WON’T “HURRY THE JOURNEY AT ALL” We have new horizons in view—most likely the canals of Europe, possibly the Med—but it is with great difficulty that we inevitably leave the wonderful friends we have made in northern Europe. *** Readers interested in cruising northern Europe are referred to a sampling of prior Voyages/CC News articles. What a treasure trove! Perhaps they will all be searchable online someday. The Stockholm Archipelago, Russia, and Other Baltic Gems, Ernie Godshalk and Ann Noble-Kiley, Voyages 2019 Destination: Stockholm Archipelago, Ernie Godshalk and David Tunick (NYS), Voyages 2018 To Brittany, By the Books, Ernie Godshalk, Voyages 2017 Golden Eye, From Arctic Norway to Denmark and Germany, Ernie Godshalk, Voyages 2015 Golden Eye: Denmark and Norway, Ernie Godshalk, Voyages 2014 Canty Explores the Eastern Finland Lakes, Paul and Marty Rogers (BOS/GMP), Voyages 2014 Don’t Take Your Guns to Sea, Ernie Godshalk, Voyages 2013 Sailing to Russia, Jim and Jean Foley (GLS), Voyages 2011 Åland Archipelago, Charles Langston (BOS/NBP) and Susan Kline, CC News 2010 Gems of the Baltic, Tanner Rose (FLA), CC News 2009 Savoring the Risk/Reward Ratio: Exploring Norway’s Svalbard Archipelago, Tom Wadlow (ESS), CC News 2008 Plans on Spitsbergen and Norway, Ned Cabot, CC News 2008 Navigating Norway, Juan E. Corradi (BOS/NBP), CC News 2008 Hitting the Highlights, Tanner Rose (FLA), CC News 2007 Swedish Style, Jeb Embree (ESS), CC News 2006 A Single Day in Norway, Alfred Sanford (BOS/BUZ), CC News 2005 Norway’s Magic Carpet, David Tunick (NYS), CC News 2005 A Tale of Four Summers—European Style, Fred A. Keire,
CC News 2004 Sailing the Skerries, Baird Tewksbury, (PNW), CC News 2004 Larger Than Life, Finley H. Perry, Jr. (BOS/BUZ), CC News 2004 Scandinavian Trilogy, Myron (Mike) Arms (BOS), CC News, December 2002 Norway’s West Coast, Robert Hart (SAF), CC News, December 1998 Islay: Beyond the Hebrides, Pam and Bill Kellett (CHE), CC News 1992 Kodiak Discovers Norway, E. Llwyd Ecclestone (FLA), CC News 1992
ABOUT THE AUTHORS Ernie Godshalk sailed Golden Eye, hailing port Manchester-by-the-Sea, a 1996 McCurdy and Rhodes-designed Hinckley Sou’wester 42, to Europe in 2010 and has spent the last ten summers cruising in northern Europe. He was co-chair of the CCA’s 2019 Stockholm Archipelago Cruise and is post captain of the North American Station of the Royal Scandinavian Yacht Clubs and Nyländska Jaktklubben, a member of Royal Norwegian Yacht Club and of Nyländska Jaktklubben, and Baltic region roving rear commodore of the Ocean Cruising Club. He is pictured here at Fastnet Rock. Ann Noble-Kiley has sailed Passport, hailing port Manchester-by-the-Sea, a 1977 William H. Tripp Jr.-designed Hinckley Bermuda 40, from Canada to the southern Caribbean. She has crewed on boats between Massachusetts and the Caribbean and along the Indian Ocean coast of South Africa. She has sailed on Golden Eye for the past seven summers in northern Europe. Ann holds a 100-ton USCG license and a Yachtmaster Offshore Certificate. She is shown here sailing in Norway. issue 62 2020
On an Inadvertent Maritime Camino to Galicia by Lynnie Bruce and Max Fletcher, Boston Station, Gulf of Maine Post Chalk cliffs at Studland Bay.
THE QUIET OF A STILL BRITTANY MORNING on the Trieux River at Lézardrieux was broken by a surprising sound— the haunting notes of a bagpipe rolling across the water. “What’s a bagpiper doing in France?” we wondered. Peering out from Juanona’s deck, we noted that he was dressed in a kilt no less! Learning of the deep Celtic and western U.K. roots of Brittany, comprising northwest France, and Galicia in northwest Spain, was just one of the surprises we found while cruising this fascinating area. In April 2019, we’d left the quaint, historic Dutch town of Hoorn, our home for the past three winters, to sail to Monnickendam, where we hauled and painted the bottom for the first time since leaving Maine in 2014. We suspect that three winters of sitting in fresh water must have helped kill whatever may have started to grow during Juanona’s salt-water summers, for we’ve never had much growth on the bottom. issue 62 2020
Clockwise from above: Cliffside path on Sark Island; fresh artichokes at the market in Lézardrieux; Alderney’s rare blonde hedgehogs.
After exiting Holland’s inland sea via IJmuiden’s lock, we sailed to Scheveningen, a useful staging area on the Netherlands’ west coast with easy train access to the historic towns of Delft, Leiden, and Den Hague. From here, we made day sails to Zeebrugge, Belgium, a convenient if otherwise uninteresting stop, Dunkirk, and Boulogne-sur-Mer in France. The latter boasts the world-class Nausicaá aquarium and ocean museum, which ranks with the Ozeaneum in Stralsund, Germany, among the best we’ve ever seen. We crossed the English Channel to New Haven, then worked west along the English coast to Lymington and the stunning anchorage at Studland Bay, where we staged for recrossing the channel to the Channel Islands. Max had sailed to Alderney in 1978 and remembered the experience of being swept 45 degrees from the course steered. This year was no different, but after the tide changes, you get swept back to compensate. The critical element is to gauge your final approach, preferably near slack 40
water, and avoid being dragged past the islands. We successfully landed in Alderney, which, thankfully, has an ample supply of stout moorings, as the tidal range can be as much as 20 feet. Dealing with the area’s extreme tides and currents proved well worthwhile, for each Channel Island offers its own unique and laid-back culture. On Alderney, we were introduced to e-bikes, which quickly became our favorite mode of island transport, and to the island’s famous blonde hedgehogs. After a few days we sailed to Guernsey, where Victor Hugo fled after his criticism of the French monarch led to his being exiled. His elaborately decorated home was over-the-top baroque for our taste, but an interesting peek into his life nonetheless. We took a ferry to the small island of Sark, a rural community that reminded us of some of Maine’s remote outpost islands. During our touring, we noticed the heavy coastal fortifications attesting to the islands’ strategic location, a fact not lost on Hitler, whose occupation left deep scars and harrowing tales.
Clockwise from left: Medieval Dinan and the Rance River; the two-mile channel to Paimpol dries completely at low tide; along Brittany’s pink granite coast.
Ten days later, we sailed the 47 miles to the coast of north Brittany. Of all the places we’ve cruised in our six seasons in northern Europe, Brittany required the steepest learning curve. Tides up to 40 feet, with corresponding strong currents and relatively few all-weather harbors for our two-meter draft, demanded significant planning and attention to both tides and weather. Several folks encouraged us to time the tide and sail into the ancient fishing port of Paimpol, along a two-mile-long channel that completely dries at low tide. We were considering the option until some Brits we had met in Guernsey reported back to us that they had miscalculated the tide. Having forgotten the hour difference between England and France, they found the Paimpol lock gate closed when they arrived. Barely managing to scurry out on the falling tide, the captain told us, “We could see the eyes of the crabs” in the thin water under the keel. After hearing about their close call, we decided to take the easy
approach by basing ourselves in a handful of all-weather harbors and renting a car to explore the coastal and inland areas by land. Eventually we got a weather window and favorable current for the day sail to France, so we left Guernsey and headed for the Trieux River. Brittany has a character quite distinct from other regions of France and seems more connected to the western part of the U.K. This makes sense, given that the Celts migrated here between 300 and 500 C.E., and Brittany only became part of France in 1532. As we discovered at Lézardrieux, it is not uncommon to hear bagpipes being played at any time of day or night. The cuisine is a treat, with the area rich in both agriculture and seafood. Arriving during the height of the artichoke season, we were entranced by fields of these spiked petaled balls sitting atop leafy stalks, which we purchased for a euro apiece on market days. Local crêperies, offering crêpes and galettes, ensured we never went hungry. With infrequent issue 62 2020
Top: Racers competing in France’s Solitaire de Figaro. Right: Between legs.
bus service, our rental car gave us easy access to the region’s historical sites, including Saint-Malo, the famous seaport at the mouth of the river, and Dinan, a charming medieval town originally founded in the first century C.E., both located along the Rance River. After a week on the bucolic Trieux River, we moved on to the efficient marina at Roscoff. They happened to be hosting two legs of the 50th annual La Solitaire du Figaro, which the French consider the world championship of solo round-thebuoys racing. Each leg is typically 450–500 miles and takes the fleet back and forth across the English Channel, with its strong currents and dense shipping traffic, often in fog and heavy winds. We had a front-row seat for the high-tech foiling tenmeter boats and their skippers, including several women, and were most impressed with the high level of skill and endurance they displayed. We also discovered more local fare for our taste buds: regional potatoes and onions. We watched farmers harvesting the former on the small Île de Batz, a short ferry ride from Roscoff. We learned about the latter in a small museum dedicated to onion sellers. As recently as the mid-20th century, these so-called “Johnnies” would sail their onions to the western U.K., then mount bicycles adorned with massive braids of these pink orbs to peddle them door to door. We also learned about Brittany’s blue-and-white-striped shirts. Although originally worn by its sailors, they became associated with the Johnnies due to a WWII cartoon. An odd, but interesting fact. 42
Continuing on down the coast, we stopped for a night at L’Aber Wrac’h before timing our passage through the Chenal du Four around Brittany’s western tip. We immediately felt more relaxed after rounding that infamous point, for Brittany’s southern seaboard has significantly fewer tidal restrictions than the north coast and many more anchoring possibilities. We anchored up the peaceful Odet River near the village of Bénodet, then jumped over to two lovely islands off Brittany’s south coast, Île de Groix and Île d’Houat, where we met the only other U.S.-flagged boat we saw the entire summer.
those ubiquitous, striped shirts associated with Breton sailors were sold under the brand name of Saint James. Delving into a region’s unique history and culture has been a major part of our six years in Europe. This helps to explain how we found ourselves amid the menhirs in Carnac—more than 3,000 standing stones erected around 3,300 B.C.E—and inside a nearby burial chamber, dating from 4,500 B.C.E. At Pont-Aven, we wandered around an old village, as pretty as any we’ve ever seen, and one which Paul Gauguin turned into an artist colony before heading into the South Pacific.
Top: The stones at Carnac were erected more than 5,000 years ago. Above: The drying river in Pont-Aven.
While in Brittany, we began hearing references to Saint James, one of the Twelve Apostles and the one credited with bringing Christianity to the Iberian Peninsula. The cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, houses his bones. It draws thousands of pilgrims annually who follow well-established ancient caminos, or routes, some of them maritime, from as far away as Finland. Throughout our summer in both Brittany and Galicia, we would happen upon a trail, a church, or a landmark connected to these pilgrimages. This history added an intriguing element to our summer’s cruising and explained why some of
More recently, southern Brittany has become the base for many of France’s leading offshore sailing programs and some of the world’s most advanced sailboats. The Éric Tabarly Museum at Lorient recounts the roots of the French passion for offshore sailing and gives an overview of current and future technological advances in sailboat design and construction, including efforts to construct sailboats using recyclable materials. By early July, the area was becoming busy. Indeed, we had been told that starting July 15, Bastille Day, anchorages would start filling up. We found a weather window to cross the Bay of Biscay and had a very pleasant, mostly downwind sail under our asymmetrical spinnaker, with smooth seas across this notorious body of water. After two nights, we made landfall at Gijón, midway along Spain’s northern coastline. We were surprised at issue 62 2020
Clockwise from top: The magnificent Picos de Europa; performers at the medieval festival in A Coruña; the “Tower of Hércules” is one of the world’s oldest lighthouses. Opposite: Cape Finisterre, known as the “end of the earth” from Roman times.
how relatively smooth the seas had been, nothing like the “Bay of Biscay rollers that knock your head right off your shoulders,” as the Gordon Bok song goes. A week later, we made our way west from Gijón, and this time we encountered uncomfortably rolly conditions which gave us a small taste of the brew that Biscay can dish up. From Gijón, we explored the area by car. The Picos de Europa National Park has stunning scenery and excellent hiking trails, and Oviedo is an old capital city with beautiful architecture. Rounding the northwest corner of Galicia brought us to the ancient city of A Coruña, where we saw the Tower of Hércules, one of the world’s oldest lighthouses. Though it was expanded in the 1700s, the original Roman interior is still largely intact and features an ingenious design that maximizes height while minimizing the material required. Our visit coincided with A Coruña’s medieval fair, complete with street performers, craft booths, Moorish foods, and a fun-seeking crowd, us included. A few miles south, we rounded Cape Finisterre, known since Roman times as the “end of the earth.” Besides being an
ancient landmark for seamen, it serves as the finale for those pilgrims who have managed to reach Santiago de Compostela and want to continue to where they literally can’t walk another step. Ever since Saint James’ body was discovered in Galicia in the ninth century, Santiago de Compostela has been one of Christianity’s primary pilgrimage destinations, trailing only Rome and Jerusalem in popularity. We soon learned that the coasts of Spain and Portugal are heavily influenced by the Atlantic swell, so much so that scanning the swell forecast becomes as much a part of the daily routine as watching the winds. The swell can make an otherwise semi-protected anchorage untenable, and even some of the marinas are prone to uncomfortable and even dangerous surges. Fog is an occasional occurrence, but more common in the spring and fall. On only one occasion did we alter our cruising plans in these Galician waters due to a dense gray day. The Spanish rías are drowned estuaries with beautiful beaches everywhere you turn. The contour of the coastline keeps the rías south of Finisterre somewhat more sheltered than issue 62 2020
those further north. The rías are open to the Atlantic Ocean, but islands and headlands offer a buffer. This in turn makes many anchorages, suitable for any wind direction, just a short hop away from each other. While the summer prevailing winds are northeasterly and can sometimes get quite strong along the outer coast, they are usually somewhat moderated inside the rías. Low-pressure systems occasionally bring a period of southerly winds, and we experienced just a handful of rainy days during July and August. We had been worried that the sweltering heat affecting interior Spain might make life aboard uncomfortable. On the contrary, the cool water temperatures, which made swimming feasible but not always comfortable, prevented any extreme temperature swings. Noting the increase in pleasure boating at the start of France’s vacation months, we thought we’d find a similar scenario in Spain. Yet, even in August, the Spanish holiday month, few of the anchorages seemed overcrowded. In the rare times we found an anchorage full, it was easy to move to a beach a few miles away. Like Brittany, Galicia is rich in both seafood and agricultural resources. Nearly every restaurant will feature local mussels, cockles, razor clams, lobsters, shrimp, octopus, sardines, and other varieties of fish, washed down with regional Albariño and Ribeira wines. Promoted as the mussel capital of the world, Galicia’s mussel farmers harvest more than 230,000 tons annually from wooden rafts called bateas. These are floating platforms, from which hang numerous ropes on which the mussels grow. Every ría has designated areas for the rafts, usually indicated on chart plotters, which are moored in a gridlike fashion. Each is anchored from a point near its center, so there is no danger in navigating through and between them. For 46
the minor inconvenience they create, they sometimes also help mitigate any waves when anchored inshore of them. Several stunning barrier islands lie off the Galician coast, which have wisely been preserved as a national park, the Parque Nacional das Illas Atlánticas. An anchoring permit is required to visit these islands, but it is a simple and quick process to obtain the permit online, and it is valid for two years. With permit in hand, you need to apply for specific days on which to visit the islands, also an easy step and one that ensures the islands aren’t inundated with visitors. We ran out of time to visit them but plan to do so next year. Perhaps the most stunning anchorage we visited was off Praia de Barra. This is a clothing-optional beach, an attribute that was taken advantage of by throngs of non-thonged beach-goers during the hot spell during which we happened to anchor there. The bay also provided some of our prettiest hikes of the year. Circular hilltop fortifications, called castros, constructed long ago by early inhabitants, including the Celts, can be found throughout northwest Spain. On one of our walks, winding our way to the top of a mountain overlooking Donón, we stood in the stone ruins of one such first-century settlement. The town of Baiona, located near the border with Portugal, served as our summer’s most southerly destination. Like A Coruña, the natural harbor here has made Baiona a strategic port since Phoenician times. Julius Caesar came here and Francis Drake assaulted the town in 1585. The Pinta arrived in this port on March 1, 1493, bringing news of Columbus’s discoveries to Europe, and a replica of the caravel sits prominently in the harbor. Located next to one of the impressive, state-owned inns or paradors, the Monte Real Club Nautico de Yates has an illustrious past, becoming the first Spanish sailing club to take
part in the America’s Cup in 1989. The club offers excellent facilities for transiting yachts, with a 25 percent discount to several sailing associations, including the CCA.
Left to right: The beach off Monte Louro; repairing fishing nets in Ribeira; Baiona’s Monte Real Club Nautico de Yates.
Juanona will spend the winter at the Real Club Nautico in the quiet, un-touristy town of Portosin, which has a most welcoming staff. The nearby city of Noia was the main port of entry for the maritime pilgrimage to Santiago from the 12th century, and provides easy access to Santiago’s air and rail hubs. After six years in northern Europe, when we are asked what our favorite cruising areas are, we mention the coast of Norway north of Rorvik, followed by the archipelagos along Sweden’s east coast. We enjoyed the Netherlands and Denmark, but more for their people, history, and culture, than for the cruising grounds. After this summer’s cruise, we will add the rías of northwest Spain to the mix, with an honorable mention to southern Brittany—though in fairness, we should point out that we have not cruised Ireland or Scotland. We continue to be amazed at how few American cruisers we encounter in this part of the world—outside of an organized cruise, we typically see fewer than four in any one summer. This year we saw just one. Complications due to Schengen and VAT no doubt contribute to this fact, but these issues can be surmounted by planning routes and schedules to ensure compliance. We went to the trouble of obtaining temporary Dutch residency, which has greatly widened our options for cruising in Europe. We are most grateful to those cruisers, including many CCA members, who have ventured in these waters before us and provided valuable insights and suggestions through articles and notes. That information enhanced another memorable cruise—our inadvertent maritime camino.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS Max Fletcher grew up racing and cruising in Maine. He has sailed extensively in New England and the Canadian Maritimes, the Mediterranean, and the Pacific Ocean. On Christopher Robin, his Westsail 32, he sailed from Maine to New Zealand, across the Southern Ocean and around Cape Horn. Lynnie Bruce grew up in Virginia, where she sailed with her family before moving to Maine. Max and Lynnie were married in 2001. When not out cruising on Juanona, their Nordic 40, they live on Orr’s Island in Casco Bay, Maine. Together they have sailed from Maine to the western Caribbean, the Mediterranean, the Azores, the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, and northern Europe.
issue 62 2020
The Salt Makers of the
East Java Sea
Vixen sailing along the west coast of Madagascar.
Life on a Remote Indonesian Island by Bruce Halabisky, Winner of the Clubâ€™s 2018 Blue Water Medal
n the late afternoon, under an almost cloudless sky, Vixen, our 34-foot, John Atkin-designed gaff cutter, sailed westward through the light-blue waters of the Java Sea in the northeast corner of the Indian Ocean. Despite the serenity of the setting, my mind raced, trying to unravel the complexities of our rapidly approaching landfall on the remote coral atoll of Meatij Miarang. We had sailed overnight from a pristine anchorage near the town of Saumlaki in the Tanimbar Islands. The wind had died down from earlier in the day, and it was going to be hard to make it to the lagoon entrance while there was still good light 54
to see the coral heads. If we arrived at dusk, we would have to heave-to and wait all night on the open ocean or skip the visit and sail on. Uncharted and on the windward side of the lagoon, the pass itself was cause for much of my anxiety. It was impossible to know what the currents would be like or what the depth would be. We would just have to approach and decide on the spot whether to go in. The reason I was attempting such a landfall at all came as a result of talking to an Australian sailor named Keith, who Iâ€™d
met a month earlier on Horn Island at the top of Australia’s east coast. The previous year, Keith had piloted his schooner through the gap in the reef and stayed for a week with the villagers of Meatij Miarang. He praised the beauty of the anchorage and the kindness of the people. A village elder had told him that his was only the third yacht ever to enter the lagoon. I hoped that Vixen would be the fourth. However, a vision of Keith flashing in my memory did nothing to instill confidence in the information on which I was now risking our boat. A rough combination of piratical sailor and 50-something surfer, Keith had a private barstool in Horn Island’s only tavern. “What about the pass?” I had asked innocently, sitting next to him in the dimly-lit bar. “Not a drama, mate,” Keith had assured me after taking a long pull on a cold Victoria Bitter. “Plenty of water,” he added. I pushed Keith’s dubious appearance out of my mind. With daylight fading fast, I started the motor to give us some extra speed and a fair shot at racing the sun to the entrance of the
lagoon. I spotted breaking surf from a mile out and ran north along this wall of whitewater, searching for the pass. A half-mile from the reef, we were still off soundings, the chart showing a depth of over 600 feet. Finally, after another hour of motorsailing, I could see some smooth water marking the entrance. It looked navigable. Some whirlpools and standing waves chopped up the surface, but the water was a deep blue and the sun was still high enough to illuminate the submarine coral heads. We took down the sails and made our approach under power, aiming for a gap in the breakers about 50 yards wide. My wife, Tiffany, was at the helm, and I climbed the rigging to have a better look. Even with breaking waves on both sides, there was no readable depth on the sounder. We were already in the pass before it flashed 70 feet, then almost as quickly, 20 feet. Now I could clearly see the coral beneath the keel. We pushed forward, fighting a bit of current, and finally entered the calm of the lagoon. Vixen had made it inside. All that remained was about a mile of navigation toward the sandy islet while avoiding any coral patches—not something one would want to try in the dark. We picked our way slowly and anchored in 30 feet of water. After the chain had run out and the engine was turned
Indonesia is a country of islands—some 17,000 of them—stretching over 3,000 miles of ocean, from the western tip of Sumatra to the eastern province of Papua, bordering Papua New Guinea. This enormous archipelago is home to some of the densest human populations on earth—the city of Jakarta has almost nine million inhabitants—and also to some of the most isolated island communities. In 2007, while on a round-the-world sailing voyage, Bruce Halabisky, his wife, Tiffany Loney, and their two-year-old daughter, Solianna, visited one of the country’s remote eastern atolls. issue 62 2020
Over the next few hours, I saw a cylinder head come off, a piston rod pounded straight with my Estwing hammer, and just about all the innards of that little diesel come apart and then be put back together.
Our Meatij Miarang ride to shore.
off, the only sound was the dull roar of the surf on the reef. Above us, a dozen frigate birds eyed the new arrival to their lagoon. The next morning at dawn, four young men drifted down to Vixen in their wooden motorboat. The boat, about 30 feet long, was essentially a dugout canoe with two planks to build up the sides and support a rough deck. They were very excited to see us and had drifted out, even though their engine didn’t work. After they tied up alongside, we invited them onboard for coffee. Everything on our boat fascinated them. They clucked over a stainless-steel bucket, giving it a sharp rap with their knuckles, and they fingered the jib sheets and winches the way I might examine the hardware of a UFO. Pictures of Canada and the United States were a big hit. Solianna’s children’s books kept us all entertained. The four young men, wide-eyed in amazement, crowded around to look at a picture of a bear. At the end of our visit, they confronted the sad inboard diesel that powered their boat. Fortunately, I had a few tools to help them. They must have assumed I’d have something to fix it, because I’m not sure how they would have gotten back to the island without an engine. We were anchored about a mile downwind from their atoll because the water was too shallow and coral strewn for Vixen to approach any closer. Aris, the most mechanical-minded of the four, went to work. The motor was a one-cylinder diesel made in China, which I later learned costs about $600 U.S. and is usually in need of a major overhaul after about two years of service. Apparently, this major overhaul was going to happen right alongside Vixen. With hand gestures, Aris would indicate what tool he needed, and I would rummage around to find it in Vixen’s lockers. Over the next few hours, I saw a cylinder head come off, a piston rod pounded straight with my Estwing hammer, and just about all the innards of that little diesel come apart and then be put back together. The most useful tool seemed to be a machete, 56
with which Aris would hack up pieces of wood to use as wedges and levers. Much to my amazement, when Aris finished the job and turned the hand crank, the thing roared to life. There was no neutral gear, so we all hopped on board and motored up to the village, towing our dingy behind us. Our arrival caused a stir, and everyone came down to the beach to see the visitors. Solianna, with her blond hair, was a spectacle. The village, consisting of perhaps two dozen huts spread out under the palm trees, was made entirely of natural materials from the island. The walls were woven mats of palm fronds and bamboo screens. The roofs were of palm fronds. Water came from a rain catchment. Baskets for carrying water were also made from palm fronds. There was an obvious absence of anything plastic. The dugout canoes which lined the beach were made of wood from a neighboring island. Some dugouts had sails made from thin cotton, similar to what one would use for a tablecloth.
Sharing food and conversation on Vixen.
Giant clamshells on the beach. Giant clamshells from the lighthouse.
We sat with the villagers and communicated the best we could. We gave away some of the odds and ends from Vixen: a bag of childrenâ€™s clothes, lengths of rope, and an empty bottle of Bombay gin, which Aris quickly claimed as his own. We had an Indonesian guide book which was passed around and each picture carefully examined. Robert, one of the young men who had come out to visit us, climbed a coconut tree to get us some drinking nuts. He hacked them open with a few deft blows of his machete. Unique to this village was a salt-making operation. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of giant clamshells were arranged in neat rows. While we were there, women tended the shells constantly, filling each with a splash of salt water that they had carried from the ocean in a palm basket. The hot tropical sun drew off the water and left the shells full of salt, which was used to preserve the fish the men caught in the lagoon. Much of this salted fish would be sold in Saumlaki, the nearest large town, 160 miles to the east.
Although the remote villages we visited throughout the Pacific, and now in the Indian Ocean, varied greatly culturally, the two themes common to all were fishing and gardening. This is what sustains life on these isolated islands. Sometimes there are goats or pigs or chickens, but usually these are supplemental foods for special occasions. The real calorie producers are the gardens and the ocean. Some islands rely more on one or the other. The Pacific islands of Vanuatu, for example, have minimal reefs and limited access to deep-sea fish, but the rich volcanic soil compensates by supporting abundant gardens. In contrast, some islands of eastern Indonesia are barren and parched, with most nutrients coming from the sea. Meatij Miarang, an atoll only a mile long and about 10 feet above sea level, was blessed on both accounts. It had enough rain and fertile soil for productive gardening and also enjoyed a huge lagoon, 13 miles across, from which to catch sea life.
issue 62 ď‚˛ 2020
Local kids visiting on the west coast of Sumatra.
feet tall, according to the chart—which hadn’t been active for years. Apparently, there was no diesel to run the generator for the light. Although the lighthouse had shut down long ago, somehow the position of lighthouse keeper had remained open. We met the keeper, still on the payroll, who went diligently to his office every day at the base of the derelict tower. Perhaps he had been forgotten. Later, after we had sailed 850 miles west to Bali, I had to show the immigration official on a map where we had entered his country. “Never heard of it,” he said, shaking his head when I told him of the principal city of Saumlaki in the Tanimbar archipelago. Being so far from the power center of Jakarta, it was not hard to imagine a whole island being forgotten, lighthouse keeper and all, while miraculously a salary kept trickling through Indonesia’s bureaucratic warren.
The food grown in the gardens was similar to that of the Pacific islands. The most abundant crops are root vegetables: taro, manioc, cassava, and sweet potatoes. Other common fruits and vegetables include pumpkins, papayas, bananas, eggplant, and of course, the all-important coconut, which is cultivated like any other crop. I could see that new coconut sprouts had been planted next to towering palms, preparing to someday take over. We walked to the far side of the island with Robert to see an abandoned lighthouse. It was a steel structure—80
We walked back to the village, stopping to watch a 40-footlong boat being constructed under a palm hut. It was already planked and framed up, and the boatbuilder was fitting some heavy rub rails over the bow. With a razor-sharp machete, he hacked away at a large piece of teak. It was hard to believe his crude tools had created this impressive vessel under the palm fronds. We stayed for a few days at Meatij Miarang, snorkeling in the clear waters, revisiting the village, and collecting shells on the blazing white beaches. The trade winds blew incessantly from the southeast, and every day the sun traversed a brightblue sky. We could have stayed for weeks, but eventually pulled up the anchor and headed back to the pass. As we threaded the entrance for the second time, I realized that this tricky gateway had helped to shield Meatij Miarang from the modern world.
Meatij Miarang beach.
This isolation also allowed us to witness the essence of tropical-island life—fishing and gardening—which are critical to survival here. In addition, we had observed a resourcefulness common to all islanders— people who can extract salt from the ocean using only clamshells and the heat of the sun, and repair a cheap Chinese diesel with not much more than a hammer and a sharp machete. ✧
Vixen at anchor off Komodo Island.
About the Author Bruce Halabisky completed an 11-year circumnavigation on Vixen, a 34-foot gaff cutter, in 2015. He is a frequent contributor to Wooden Boat magazine and now lives on Orcas Island, Washington, with his wife, Tiffany Loney, and their two daughters, Solianna and Seffa Jane, who were born during the voyage. In 2018, Bruce and Tiffany were awarded the Club’s prestigious Blue Water Medal in recognition of their family’s circumnavigation on Vixen. Bruce and his family are pictured here in Maine.
issue 62 2020
Gracie on the reef on the west side of Rangiroa, 1964. Photo by Erwin Christian.
Gracie on the Rocks:
A Schooner Rediscovered After 50 Years 1964 WAS NOT A GOOD YEAR FOR MY FATHER. His beloved schooner, the 98-foot Gracie S, which he had sold six years earlier, was lost on the motu that forms Rangiroa Island in the Tuamotu Archipelago in French Polynesia. He was devastated. As he delivered the news, I asked if we could go down to see her one last time. “It’s too damn far and too tough to get there.” With those words, the prospect of saying a final goodbye to my first home were dashed—not permanently, as it turned out, but for 50 years. vas. Gracie S under full can
Privateers class of 1949 at anchor in Portage Bay, Seattle: Doug Fryer (PNW) directly behind man in companionway, and Bob Alexander, formerly of Pacific Northwest Station, with arm on boom.
by John Kennell, Pacific Northwest Station
irst, a little history of the vessel. Gracie S was a San Francisco pilot schooner, built in 1893 and used to take bar pilots out to freighters to guide them through the Golden Gate into San Francisco Bay. She was joined in this endeavor by the schooners Pathfinder (which was lost on the rocks outside of Golden Gate in 1913), Adventuress, and Zodiac. The latter two still ply the waters of the Pacific Northwest today as sail-training vessels. The front money for procurement of these pilot schooners was contributed by San Francisco business leaders to ensure that their imported goods, so vital in San Francisco’s postGold Rush years, would arrive as scheduled. Use of pilot vessels facilitated this goal. Legend has it that the newest addition to the fleet was named for the most desired woman in San Francisco society, sugar heiress Gracie Spreckels, whose portrait hangs at the entrance to the Legion of Honor Fine Arts Museum in Golden Gate Park. At least initially, Ms. Spreckels was apparently unaware of this somewhat unorthodox appropriation of her name.
In 1947, after 52 years in the pilot service, Gracie was sold to Captain George Moller of Oakland, California, who ran her as a charter vessel for a few months. He then sold her to actor Sterling Hayden, who, in 1948, after some marital difficulties, sold her to my father, Ed Kennell. My dad sailed the boat in the 1951 Transpac and during the summer months from 1949 to 1956. He also ran a boys’ sail-training camp called the Privateers, which made trips up and down the Salish Sea, reaching as far as Alaska. I went on two of these trips as a toddler. Alumni of the camp include Doug Fryer (PNW) and Bob Alexander (formerly PNW), as well as many other sailing luminaries from the Northwest. My family lived aboard on Gracie until 1956, two years following my birth. That year, my parents decided that, with an expanding family, it would be best to move to a house ashore, adjacent to Gracie’s Seattle berth. My dad later sold Gracie back to Hayden, who renamed her Wanderer, refitted her in Sausalito, issue 62 2020
and, famously, sailed her to Tahiti with his four children in defiance of a child-custody order. This became the subject of his best-selling 1963 autobiography, also called Wanderer. Wanderer remained in the Society Islands and was eventually bought by a partnership comprised of Omar Darr, skipper of the boat during the Hayden years (and whose son Bob later founded the Arques School of Traditional Boatbuilding in Sausalito), and Joe Price, an oil pipeline magnate from Bartlesville, Oklahoma. On an ill-fated November night in 1964, the schooner was out on a charter, bound for Panama. As she was sailing along the west side of the Tuamotus, the cook fell asleep on night watch. The fierce east-setting current west of Rangiroa took Wanderer into the reef that marks the west side of the island. All aboard were saved, but the heavy vessel was hard aground on a lee shore on the unforgiving reef, with no resources but her own crew to save her.
Our guide, Hiria Arnoux, and Gary Nolan (PNW) survey what’s left of the main mast, ballast ingots, and windlass.
In May 2014, during our recent circumnavigation aboard Amulet, our 48-foot Stephen Jones-designed cutter, we decided to stop in Rangiroa (the visit coinciding with my 60th birthday) to see if we could survey what was left of the wreck. We had been tipped off to its approximate location by Doug Fryer (PNW), who had been to Rangiroa in the early 70s. He had anecdotal evidence from local residents that the wood portions of the wreck had been set aflame prior to 1972 in an effort to extract the fasteners, which could then be used for construction on the island. We expected that what was left of the wreck would most likely consist of metal parts and hardware, including the main mast, which was of steel construction. We decided to take a chance and try to find what remained. Like most of the Tuamotus, Rangiroa is an atoll. The enclosed lagoon is mostly shallow and, at 60 miles across, the largest of the island lagoons. The channels west of the main anchorage in front of the Kia Ora Hotel either aren’t marked or don’t exist, so it wasn’t realistic for us to take Amulet, which draws six-and-a-half feet, on the 55-mile run to the wreckage site. A local guide, Hiria Arnoux, who had been visiting the wreck since he was a kid, turned out to be very helpful, and his very fast boat, powered by a 400-horsepower Volvo turbo diesel, was able to make the trip in just over an hour. Hiria told us that in his younger years, while working as a bartender at the Kia Ora Hotel in the late 1960s, he had served drinks to Sterling Hayden, who had every intention of visiting the wreck site. In the end, however, Hayden apparently couldn’t face going to the site and never left the grounds of the hotel during his stay. 62
The heartbreaking sight of the anchor chain leading out to the reef’s edge, a reminder of the attempt to kedge Gracie off.
At 0930 on May 21, 2014, my wife, Melinda, daughter, Claire, and Gary Nolan (PNW) took off with Hiria to cross the Rangiroa lagoon from east to west. We found what remained of the Gracie S, and to our surprise, it was all within wading depth. The main mast was the most prominent feature, followed by the steel ballast ingots, the drive shaft, some capstans, the engine
The author with daughter, Claire, wife, Melinda, and Gary Nolan (PNW).
block, and lots of smaller pieces of hardware, along with the occasional wood bit. The most moving sight, however, was the anchor chain, which was largely intact and stretched out several hundred feet to the edge of the reef—as 50 years of storms had washed the wreckage landward—evidence of the attempt to kedge her off. We spent over three hours surveying seemingly insignificant parts, then entertaining ourselves by linking them to their role in running the schooner. Did that universal joint belong to the freezer drive or the starter engine? Is that a pintle or a gooseneck? It was an eerie feeling, remembering the unique bulbous shape of the capstan drum and the trademark cast into the generator block. Here we were, staring at the actual items 50 years later. It was a rusted, barnacle-encrusted time capsule. Our temptation to grab a few souvenirs was tempered by the realization that if they were made of steel, they would oxidize into dust in a matter of months once removed from the seawater to a more oxygen-rich environment. The non-ferrous parts had already been pretty heavily scavenged. Our reward for this far-flung expedition was a plethora of intangibles. I’d found the closure I had been looking for. Finding the wreckage site after 50 years of imagining what it looked like was very satisfying and filled a psychic void. There was a sense of joy in dredging up the nostalgia of the good old days, juxtaposed with feelings of sorrow and dread associated with seeing the remains of such a beautiful vessel dashed up on the rocks. But most of all, for our adult daughter, this was a touchstone to the grandfather she had never met, which would keep alive the thread of an adventurous period in her family’s history and perpetuate the essence of life’s many possibilities.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR John and Melinda Kennell set out from Sweden in 2005 after picking up their new CR 480 DS, the 48-foot, Stephen Jones-designed cutter Amulet, built by CR Yachts in Henan, Sweden. They spent three years in the Med, then crossed the Atlantic, spending 2008–09 in the Caribbean. After transiting the Panama Canal, they arrived in their home port of Bainbridge Island, Washington, in 2010. Blue water called again in 2013 and they departed for the South Pacific. After sailing through New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, and across the Indian Ocean to South Africa, they crossed the South Atlantic to the Caribbean, arriving in Florida in May 2017.
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ATLANTIC CROSSING ON A CONTESSA 32: It’s Always Something! by Anne Kolker, New York Station Checking the anemometer and antenna.
had been talking about doing an Atlantic crossing on my boat Etoile, a 52-foot sloop-rigged Stellar, but the complexity of the systems made it seem like a daunting project. When my friend, Margaret “Garet” Wohl, sent me a copy of Cape Horn to Starboard by John Kretschmer, featuring a Contessa 32, I thought the story was compelling. Garet had bought a 1985 Contessa 32 and asked if I would consider an Atlantic crossing with her as part of a crew of three. It sounded like a real adventure on a much simpler boat than mine. Garet and I had sailed together on many offshore adventures and races over the past ten years. Of course, I said yes without hesitation. Garet also asked a friend with whom she had done an ARC race many years ago to join us. He too agreed to come. Garet had owned Salacia, her Contessa 32, for about six months before deciding to do the crossing. She documented the boat in Denmark for ease of EPIRB registration, then worked very hard to get all systems ready, including adding new sails, a small solar panel, safety equipment, and an IridiumGO! for communications. She took small trips from her home harbor in Sète, France. In late September 2018, she began the journey down the coasts of France and Spain to deliver Salacia to the Canary Islands, from which we hoped to depart in January
2019. In early October, Garet called me to let me know that her ARC friend wouldn’t be joining us due to a heart problem. She searched for a replacement through an online site for ocean crew and found Chris, an experienced 58-year-old British sailor who had done two transatlantic crossings, west to east, and who was, per Garet’s evaluation, a very capable sailor with mechanical skills to boot. To familiarize myself with the boat, I joined Garet for a two-week trip on Salacia from Barcelona to Valencia. It was small and sturdy. We had a problem with the overheat alarm for the engine, but it turned out to be the alarm, which was old, not the engine, which was new. We had a self-steering windvane, which seemed like a good idea, although it was totally new to me. Our Spanish coastal trip was mostly motor-sailing, so we never used the wind-vane.
We planned to depart the Canaries in early January 2019. I arrived in Grand Canaria on January 1 and met Chris at the airport. We shared a taxi to the marina where Salacia was docked and stowed our gear aboard. Chris was clearly an easygoing and capable crew member. After a few days of final preparation and provisioning, we set off for Mindelo in the Cape Verde islands, since there was very little wind to take us west but enough wind to take us south until the butter melts. We departed on January 3. Once beyond the shadow of Grand Canaria, we had good wind and nice weather with little wave action. We settled into our routine of three hours on and six hours off watch. All was good until 2230 on day three, when I was making tea in anticipation of my 2300 watch. I was pouring boiling water into my mug, but not holding on, when the boat lurched. I went flying backward against a knob, with the teapot in hand. I was able to place the teapot on the nav station desk before I crashed and felt immediately that I
Garet at the helm. Inset: The author’s arm and shoulder, one week after her injury.
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Salacia on her mooring in Grenada.
The author, Chris, and Garet.
had fractured my clavicle. (I am a physician, so I was fairly sure I knew what had happened.) My first reaction was nausea, and then I fainted. I recovered quickly and ascertained that my shoulder, arm, and hand still worked and, aside from intense pain, I was probably not badly injured. I insisted on standing my watch for a while to get some fresh air. Then I tried to sleep as best I could in whatever position wasn’t painful. 66
The next few days were relatively pleasant, with lots of marine life and occasional ships to watch. Chris and Garet chased a leak that was causing the bilge pump to cycle, which was a concern for battery drain. It turned out that there were two areas of hoses (the engine exhaust and a through-hull vent for the heater) which were not adequately sealed, but easy to fix. We arrived in Mindelo on January 11, navigating into the harbor with gusts to 29 knots at the approach. After docking, I headed for the shower, where I was finally able to see my shoulder, covered in a deep-purple bruise that flowed down to my elbow. I checked some reliable sources to be sure that there was no real treatment for a clavicle fracture. Aside from pain on movement, I was fine while taking lots of ibuprofen. After adding to our provisions and resting for a few days, we left Mindelo on January 14 for our crossing. Again, we settled into our routine. We picked up the equatorial current for a nice ride, giving us a speed of about five knots. After dinner on January 16, we planned to charge the batteries but the engine wouldn’t start. We measured 4.7 volts on the starting battery. We deduced that leaving the switch for that battery in the “on” position had drained it. Luckily, we were able to jump-start the engine and recharge the starting battery.
Panoramic view from the top of Mindelo, looking west.
On the morning of day five, Garet woke me to come on deck. Chris was clearly not well. He admitted to having chest pain that was similar to what had caused him to have a cardiac stent placed several years before. We knew nothing of this history. Chris had talked quite a bit about biking the hills of the Tour de France, running half-marathons, and doing solo English Channel crossings on his small sailboat. He had seemed like a very fit 58-year-old man. Apparently, he was given a clean slate from his doctor and was taking no medications. I questioned him about his medical history—his father had died at age 60 and a male cousin at age 50, both of cardiac causes—and quickly decided that we needed to have him rescued. His pulse was faint, color was grey, and pain was evident and constant. I immediately gave him two adult aspirin, the only first-line therapy we had for him. It seemed pretty clear to me that he was dehydrated, and his stent, which was in a major blood vessel supplying his heart, was now clotting off. Chris had the phone contact for the Falmouth, England, search and rescue team. We called them on the satellite phone for help. They patched us through to a physician, to whom I was able to give a cogent history and review of the problem. They immediately agreed to arrange for a rescue by means of a boat transfer. I sent Chris below decks to lie down, drink water, and remain quiet. He was very anxious and clearly uncomfortable, but he declined any narcotic to ease his pain. I was ambivalent about giving him narcotics, knowing there would be a transfer at sea that might require some agility, but I thought it could have helped. At first, the Falmouth SAR asked us to call out a Mayday, which we did without any reply. We were pretty sure that there were no boats within our radio range. They also asked if we could turn back toward Cape Verde, but with 20 knots of wind behind us and very little fuel, our attempt to return nearly 500
Sargassum, looking beautiful and harmless.
miles would have been futile. We continued on after being told that Frontier Jacaranda, a 292-meter freighter coming from South America toward Rotterdam, would rendezvous with us at around 0300. We began to communicate with the freighter via email, giving our position every few hours. The captain explained his plan to position the vessel so that we would be in their lee for the rescue. I checked on Chris regularly to be sure he wasn’t feeling worse. I worried that his continued chest pain, despite the aspirin, indicated that the suspected clot was continuing to further damage his heart. I tried to help him remain calm and gave him some information about what he might expect in the coming days. I explained that transfer home to Great Britain was unlikely until he was stable. I gently added that I thought this event would surely diminish his ability to do strenuous exercise, but that his exercise tolerance would be issue 62 2020
“We continued on after being told that Frontier Jacaranda, a 292-meter freighter coming from South America toward Rotterdam, would rendezvous with us at around 0300. We began to communicate with the freighter via email, giving our position every few hours. The captain explained his plan to position the vessel so that we would be in their lee for the rescue.” evaluated much later, once he was home and stable. We were both anxious, yet trying to be calm. What I found most disturbing was that Chris was certain that he had never been told to take daily aspirin, which would be the norm for patients with cardiac stents in the U.S. Finally, at around 0130 GMT on January 18, we hove to, waiting to see Frontier Jacaranda, having already spotted her on AIS. She appeared with all deck lights on, fenders lowered, and crew along the rail. I spoke with the captain, explaining that Chris needed to be picked up in their rescue boat, as had been arranged, since he was unable to engage in any sort of physical exertion. We dropped our sails and motored as close as we dared. The freighter was moving slowly as we came near. The rescue boat was lowered and came toward us with four crew and a huge bag of what looked like two-inch diameter rope. Despite my injured state, I was able to catch the line and tie it to our midship deck cleat while they approached and 68
tied alongside. Chris left us, carrying only his PFD, wallet, passport, and cellphone. We watched briefly as they turned back toward their ship. It was about 0400 GMT. Although we were extremely sleep deprived, we raised our sails and turned west just before sunrise. Now we were two sailors with at least 1,800 miles to go. The next two-and-a-half weeks were slow. Most of the time, we had little wind (between four and eight knots), clear skies, virtually no rain, and flat, calm seas. We had shooting stars every night and flying fish all day. Sunrise and sunset were the usual beautiful offshore events. The only really overcast day and night, unfortunately, was during the total eclipse of the moon, an event I had been excited to experience in the dark skies offshore. Our routine of three hours on and three hours off was exhausting. We set our phones to wake us every 20 minutes in the night to be sure we didn’t miss an oncoming freighter. Otherwise, we spent our days reading,
resting, and fixing things. A low-pressure oil alarm kept sounding off, but it seemed to be another alarm problem, not a pressure problem. To be sure, we contacted the engine company via email. The toilet seat on the badly conceived vacu-flush toilet fell off and needed to be fixed in order to get the toilet to flush. Each day our weather forecaster seemed to think we were about to have better wind, but it never happened. We sailed on poled-out jib alone and gybed to change course. It required a big effort from me to roll the sail in and out, but with just two of us, there was no other choice. Dealing with the pole was beyond my shoulder strength. As we neared the Caribbean, we struggled with sargassum weed clumping on our wind-vane tiller, which created drag and caused us to veer off course. Ultimately, we were able to push it off with some effort using a boat hook, which we pushed along the edge of the vane. It was a battle lasting several days and nights. We passed south of Barbados, having decided to make landfall on Grenada, where Garet has a house. I had decided that I would fly home from the first port we reached, so that I could finally get medical attention. We arrived in Grenada’s Prickly Bay just after midnight on February 6. My final job was to make a large loop and lasso a mooring as we came alongside it. It worked on the third try. Finally, we could sleep more than three hours! But first we tied up properly, opened a bottle of wine, and celebrated. It was about 0900 local time when we awoke to get ready to offload.
into many pieces. Surgery was not indicated. After several months of rehabilitation and exercise, I am almost back to normal. Chris is alive. After a two-day voyage on Frontier Jacaranda, he was brought to Cape Verde, where he spent two days in their hospital. He was then air-transferred to Grand Canaria, where he spent two-and-a-half weeks in cardiac intensive care. From there, he was transferred home for continued hospitalization. He received an AICD (automated implantable cardioverter defibrillator) in addition to intense therapy with a blood thinner, probably to protect against further clotting. The last time I heard from Chris, several months ago, he reported that he was starting cardiac rehabilitation. He explained that his functional status was quite limited due to a high degree of heart failure. He thanked me for having told him what would happen, saying that it all in fact happened as I had described it would. He added that his doctor told him that my care had saved his life. It is gratifying to know that he survived. Not knowing what had happened, Garet and I worried every day about Chris. Garet shipped Salacia back across the Atlantic. I went back to sailing Etoile for the Marion Bermuda race. I now have a big bottle of aspirin on board. You never know what can happen. 2
I flew home on February 7. I was seen by an orthopedic surgeon, who confirmed that my clavicle had been fractured
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Anne Kolker is an anesthesiologist. She worked at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center for 30 years before retiring to do more sailing. Anne became an avid sailor when she began sailing about 29 years ago with her husband, Alan. They bought Etoile with plans to retire and cruise, but Alan died in 2008. Since then, Anne has sailed numerous offshore races on Etoile with an allfemale crew, as well as serving as crew and ship’s doctor for races on other boats. She has also done many cruises along the U.S. East Coast.
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Musings on Landfall
Photography by the author and Seth Leonard, Boston Station, Gulf of Maine Post by Ellen Massey Leonard, Boston Station
o many of our words and expressions come from the world of ships and sailing: taken aback, by and large, hand over fist, a wide berth, a loose cannon, chock-a-block, landfall.
Landfall, to a seafarer, is the moment he sights land. Not the moment he sets foot on land, but the momentâ€”after months, weeks, or days with nothing but water on all sidesâ€”that the first solid speck appears on the horizon. It might be the summit of a 10,000-foot mountain, visible 100 miles away as something a little firmer than a cloud. A mariner who makes a mountainous 70
Winners of the Club’s 2018 Young Voyager Award
humankind first ventured “ Since out on the ocean, landfall has had a magical quality. For the first seafarers—everyone from the Polynesians to the Chinese to the ancients of the Mediterranean to the Europeans—landfall was especially magical, and an enormous relief, because they did not necessarily know when, where, or even if, they would find it.
The Milky Way glitters over Celeste in the South Pacific.
landfall like this will watch the peak appear to grow taller out of the sea for another 24 hours before he reaches it. Or landfall might be a light-green line on the horizon, the promise of the feathery tops of palm trees on an atoll just barely above sea level. Such a green line could first be seen only about three to five miles away because of the low elevation of that land. Our sailor would have only an hour to watch the palm trees appear to grow taller and more distinct before he’s anchored next to them. Since humankind first ventured out on the ocean, landfall has had a magical quality. For the first seafarers—everyone
from the Polynesians to the Chinese to the ancients of the Mediterranean to the Europeans—landfall was especially magical, and an enormous relief, because they did not necessarily know when, where, or even if, they would find it. Even after the world was charted, navigation by the stars and sun was a skill on which mariners’ lives literally depended. It’s arguable that today’s navigation technology, while providing much more accuracy and therefore security, has taken the wonder out of landfall. And perhaps it has; it’s certainly made navigation more boring. It has also created a certain complacency that’s produced a new set of accidents and problems. But that’s a separate issue. For me at least, even with GPS, the magic of landfall remains. The ocean, and sailing, have defined me since before I knew what that meant. As an eight-year-old solo-sailing the tiny boat my parents had given me, I daydreamed about the big, wide-open ocean beyond the bay that was my permitted sailing ground. The vast Pacific, stretching all the way to Japan: What would it be like to sail out there, well beyond the land, and be all alone on the heaving blue swells, all alone with nothing but wind, water, canvas, and wood? Fast-forward 13 years and there I was, out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean on a small, old sailboat. I wasn’t alone: By age 21, my eight-year-old’s romantic vision of solitude had been issue 62 2020
so it went, day “And after day after day, for nearly a month. Each day defined by the rhythm of sunrise and sunset, each night defined by the phase of the moon.
Sailing fast in the Pacific.
replaced by a romantic vision of male companionship, and my boyfriend (now husband), Seth, and I were sailing together. On the other hand, we were very much alone. We were alone together, just the two of us, 1,500 miles from the nearest land. For the prior two weeks, and for the two weeks still to come, we talked with no one other than each other. Although the year was 2007, we had no communications equipment other than a VHF radio that could broadcast only 25 miles. (We actually had an SSB radio, but it wasn’t operational until we repaired it in New Zealand. Later, before leaving Australia for our Indian Ocean crossing, we also installed a Pactor modem, through which we could receive SailMail and GRIB weather files.) On the route we were sailing, it was very unlikely that another vessel would come within 25 miles of us during our 72
whole month at sea. And finally, each of us was entirely alone for most of every day, standing watch while the other slept. In order to get enough sleep, we had devised a watch rotation of six-hour and four-hour segments. I stood watch from midnight to 4 a.m., then slept while Seth stood watch from 4 to 10 a.m. Then we’d have four hours together to talk, eat lunch, take saltwater bucket showers, do any repairs or chores, and trade stories of our night watches before Seth went to sleep for his rest between 2 and 8 p.m. After a quick dinner together, I’d go below to sleep until my watch at midnight. And so it went, day after day after day, for nearly a month. Each day defined by the rhythm of sunrise and sunset, each night defined by the phase of the moon. Every evening, I’d sit on the foredeck as the boat sailed herself downwind toward
times a day, “Several we’d duck below to the navigation table, where our chart of the Eastern Pacific lay spread out, ready for the next pencil cross of our position on our watery planet.
Navigating on paper enhances the wonder of sighting land..
Seth contemplates land after a month at sea, 2007.
Polynesia, and I’d watch the sky and sea flare orange, crimson, and purple as the sun sank into the waves to leeward. Almost every night, the sun left a tiny but searing green light right at the horizon for a brief and brilliant instant. The night that followed was always cool and refreshing, sometimes too refreshing when a squall ripped across the black swells and kicked up wind, spray, and rain. But more often, the nights were quiet and spangled with phosphorescence in our wake, and stars above crisper and more numerous than anything I’d seen ashore. The days were blue and bright, the wind-ripples sparkling with sunlight and our bodies baking in the heat by midday. Several times a day, we’d duck below to the navigation table, where our chart of the Eastern Pacific lay spread out, ready for the next pencil cross of our position on our watery planet. A tiny, black-and-white, early GPS unit mounted above the
On passage in light trades aboard Heretic, 2010.
chart displayed our latitude and longitude; every few hours, one of us would take a protractor and pencil and make sense of those numbers by marking our exact spot on the chart. Every few hours, those crosses got gradually further from the Galapagos Islands and closer to the Polynesian archipelagos of the South Pacific. Despite that visual evidence of our progress, landfall never felt like a tangible possibility until it actually happened. As most sailors know, there’s something eternal about being surrounded entirely by ocean. The horizon never changes: it is always the same line of blue sky meeting blue sea, or gray sky meeting gray sea, or occasionally, terrifyingly, white sky meeting white sea, the tops blowing off the waves in the kind of extreme weather one hopes to avoid. Life becomes circular as you repeat the same actions at the same times each day. issue 62 2020
The brilliant color of an hibiscus after a long passage.
or fish will I catch? But then there’s an underlying, conflicting current of trepidation, too. Emails I’ll have to respond to after weeks of a blissful lack of connectivity; a bank balance lower than it was thanks to auto-paid bills, or, worse, a (virtual) pile of notices for unpaid, overdue bills. Fears, irrational or rational, over customs and immigration officials in a new country. The knowledge that land usually means hardware stores and marine parts, and so, as soon as the passage ends and the anchor is down, that never-ending list of boat maintenance projects must begin again. Landfall after this first ocean crossing, however, wasn’t like that. I didn’t have time for all those thoughts. We sighted the
Approaching the pass to a Tuamotu atoll at sunset.
“Once we’d gained our
land legs again, we still couldn’t walk 10 paces without marveling at the abundance of color, smells, and sights.
Life at sea is thus, for me, the ultimate form of meditation, of living in the present moment, of living in cyclical time instead of linear time. The moment land appears, the moment you make landfall, the circle breaks and time becomes linear once more. There is a destination, a mountain or island or coastline toward which you are sailing, by whose bulk and height you can gauge your progress very tangibly. Always, this is a bittersweet moment. The calm and centered quality I’ve achieved at sea is broken. Yet it is always a thrilling moment: all those pencil crosses really meant something; all those hours I spent adjusting the wheel to stay on course to an imaginary destination produced something; all the little puncture wounds I suffered stitching sun-rotted sails back together thousands of miles offshore were worth it. My mind races ahead to all the things I’ll see and do ashore in this new land: What will Australia, or Fiji, or South Africa, or Alaska be like? What new interesting people will I meet, what new birds and plants and animals will I see? What new food will I try 74
Myna bird, so different from the seabirds we'd grown used to.
Dawn landfall after days at sea, Aleutian Range, Alaska.
Marquesas Islands when we were practically on top of them, just after sunrise on a rainy, misty day. Darkness, and then the low, heavy clouds and sheets of fine rain had hidden Hiva Oa from us until we were within just a few miles of its sheer cliffs and green mountains. One moment we were at sea in a gray, misty, purely oceanic world, and the next, we were there, close to land for the first time in 27 days. Verdant peaks towered into the shifting clouds and the pungent smell of wet, tropical earth wafted over the waves. The air was suddenly warmer, coming off the land.
complete self-reliance in what is perhaps our planet’s most wild wilderness, devoid of outside help.
This was the landfall that made the strongest impression on me among all the landfalls I’ve made over the 13 years I’ve spent sailing offshore. It is the one that has stayed with me. My heart sank and soared all at once. I’d crossed the Pacific Ocean. I’d sailed across the biggest ocean on Earth, on my own rudimentary cutter. I’d turned a dream into a reality. And I’d done it with my best friend, the person I’d fallen in love with. But now it was over. Those magical days of stolen time, of circular time, of life in the present, were gone. Land, with all its joys and sorrows, goals and failures, people and expectations, lay ahead. The challenges of the sea are, to me, more straightforward: the physical challenges of sailing the boat, dealing with all the elements Neptune can throw at you, the mental challenges of solitude and isolation on a very small boat on a very large ocean, and the requirements of
We launched our dinghy, which had been lashed down on deck for a month, and rowed into shore. As soon as I stepped out into the shallow water, I fell over, so unaccustomed was I to a stationary surface under my feet. We had only a mile to walk to the village where we’d clear immigration at the police station, but that mile took us over an hour. Once we’d gained our land legs again, we still couldn’t walk 10 paces without marveling at the abundance of color, smells, and sights. Hibiscus blossoms, allamanda flowers, an immense banyan tree, a grove of bananas with stalks of ripe fruit hanging among the huge, green leaves. Myna birds, a ubiquitous small brown bird of the tropics, but so very different from the white and gray seabirds we’d grown used to. The red, fertile earth between our toes. Moss and rocks and mangoes. It was joyous and overwhelming.
Seth and I reached the anchorage, furled our sails, set the anchor, and the boat was suddenly still. Quiet, calm, still, after a month of constant motion. In the sudden quiet came new sounds. The songs of land birds, the rustling of trees in the wind, the rattling of palm fronds, the lap of small waves on a sand-and-pebble beach. Laughter. Laughter from a human voice that was not my own and not Seth’s.
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Approaching Pavlof volcano, Alaska.
Subsequent landfalls have been glorious too—the glaciated peaks of Alaska’s Aleutian Range, dusted golden pink in a sunrise alpenglow; Atlantic puffins fluttering around the bare boulders of Matinicus Rock in Maine; the rugged Diomede Islands, Russian and American, hunched side-by-side in the Bering Strait—but that first
South Pacific landfall will always hold a special place in my memory, crystallizing as it does so well, the magic a sailor feels upon sighting land. This article was first published as “Landfall to a Sailor,” Misadventures magazine, Summer 2018. ✧
Perfect atoll anchorage.
A bout the Author and Photographers Ellen and Seth Leonard both grew up sailing. They began offshore voyaging together in 2006 at ages 20 and 23, circumnavigating the globe westabout from Maine via Panama, New Zealand, and the Cape of Good Hope. Despite then moving to landlocked Switzerland for Seth’s doctorate in economics, they continued voyaging in the summers, covering over 13,000 miles during five seasons in Alaska and the Arctic. They returned to warmer climes, making a second Pacific crossing to French Polynesia in 2018, during which they celebrated 50,000 sea miles. In no hurry to leave the South Pacific, they spent the most recent season cruising the Marquesas archipelago, and plan to continue to Tahiti next year. They are pictured here in the Sea of Cortez, Mexico, in 2018. Seth is a data scientist and statistical programmer who has just launched OttoQuant, Inc., a software-as-a-service tech start-up that aims to democratize forecasting and data analytics with a user-friendly web interface. Ellen is a freelance writer and photographer who contributes regularly to sailing magazines in the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Australia. She keeps a log of their voyages at GoneFloatabout.com.
A bout the Boats Heretic, on which Seth and Ellen circumnavigated, is a 1968 solid GRP imitation of the famous Sparkman & Stephens yacht Finisterre. Thirty-eight feet overall and 27 feet on the waterline, she’s a cutter-rigged sloop with shallow full keel and centerboard. She was formerly owned and raced by Larry and Anne Glenn (BOS/NBP) and was then called Runaway. Seth and Ellen sold her following their circumnavigation. Celeste, Ellen and Seth’s current boat, is a 1985 custom, cold-molded, wooden cutter designed by Francis Kinney and built by Bent Jespersen in British Columbia. Forty feet overall and 28 feet on the waterline, she is also a cutter-rigged sloop but with a fin keel and skeg-hung rudder. Her 2018 Pacific crossing was her second; her first was in 1986 with her original owner, also from Mexico to the Marquesas.
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Cruising East Africa: From the Swahili Coast to Madagascar by Mark Scott, New York Station Photographs by Liza Copeland and the author
East African sunset. Inset left: The author rowing a dinghy near Tanga, Tanzania. Inset above: Zanzibar.
wenty-five years ago, there were only five cruising yachts along the 400-mile coast of Tanzania, East Africa, and ours was one of them. This is how we came to be there. My wife, Liz, and I started a family relatively late, following a four-year circumnavigation. After our daughter, Chloe, was born, we decided to go cruising again, just the three of us. It took me a couple of years to effect a business departure plan because we wanted to return by the time Chloe was five so she could begin school. We tested the waters (so to speak) by having her join us on the return leg of the Bermuda 1-2 race when she was 11 months old. All went well, and we departed the following year, in 1994, for the Azores, where Chloe spent her second birthday. We had been looking for a cruise that would last three years, progress in a way that allowed slightly more physical risk for Chloe as she grew older, and would be new territory for Liz and me. A trip around Africa would give us a year in the relatively tame Mediterranean, then another six months to get down the Red Sea and south to the Seychelles. Our Rival 38, Lone Rival, had already proved her pedigree as a blue-water cruiser, and now the adventure would begin: Africa, with its mysteries and uncharted waters. This story is about our time on the east coast of Africa, from Kenya south to Madagascar—more than five incredible months of warm weather, colorful snorkeling, and fascinating cultural immersion before piracy became a concern. The sailing directions provided only one instruction when heading south from Yemen to the Seychelles: Keep the island of Socotra well to starboard, as there had been reports of unscrupulous and opportunistic fishermen taking advantage of unsuspecting yachtsmen. Times do change—our good friends Paul and Rachel Chandler, following our route from the Seychelles 14 years later on an identical sister boat, were captured by pirates while in the territorial waters of the Seychelles. (The 13-month ordeal is described in their book, Hostage.) It was early May 1995 when we saw palm trees just beyond the breaking surf, not far from the coast of Kenya. We had been only a week out of Victoria, Seychelles. It had been a fast and comfortable sail, with the winds out of the south and southeast. We dropped anchor in Kilifi Creek, at the home of Tony and Daphne Britchford, net controls for the East African SSB Radio Net. Our introduction and orientation over dinner that evening included precautionary reminders for not contracting malaria. We chose not to take prophylactics, instead relying on our understanding the “enemy.” While having malaria would
Gracious living in Kilifi on the Kenyan coast—our friends Tony and Daphne’s house.
be tough on an adult body, a young child could be affected for life. In the end, we had only one scare with our daughter, which turned out to be false. Tony and Daphne were a wealth of local knowledge and a “who’s who” of yachts that were then cruising along the east coast of Africa. There weren’t many of us at the time. We wanted to see more of Africa, and after a couple of weeks in Kilifi, we headed south toward Tanga, Tanzania. It was a long day of motoring before we dropped the hook in the lee of Wasini Island, still in Kenya, an area known to have some of the best snorkeling. You can jump off the back of the boat and find yourself hovering above extraordinary coral walls. Farther east, in the Pemba Channel along the Kenyan-Tanzanian border, some of the world’s best game fishing awaits. issue 62 2020
Above: Elephant and Mount Kilimanjaro. Below: Zebras.
Mother and child in Pemba.
Family in Pemba.
Chloe would soon turn four, and she was showing a definite interest in wanting time with others her own age. Part of the attraction of getting to Tanga was to meet another boat, owned by a British couple with an only child, a daughter the same age. Even better, there were still another three or four weeks left in the local expats’ school year. The clubhouse of the Tanga Yacht Club became our shoreside home for six weeks, hosting a daily social hour where a cold Tusker beer could wash down the frustrations and embellish the experiences of living in the third world. With Tanga as a base, we spent a week on safari in the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater, and I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. The timing of our trip from the Red Sea, down along the coast of East Africa and eventually on to Cape Town, would leave us exposed to the full force of the southwest monsoon, so it was time to move. We had been entrusted with notes and sketches of harbors to the south by Delwyn “Poon” McPhun, the author of what would eventually become the Imray East Africa Pilot. In exchange, we had agreed to stop at as many anchorages as possible and add details of a couple that were missing. The strategy for working our way south would be to stay as close inshore as possible. Our boat, steered by an Aries windvane, would easily go to windward with canvas well reefed. That notwithstanding, there was no reason the crew should take an unnecessary beating. Strong winds rarely lasted more than a
Above: Dhow in Zanzibar. Top right: Beach along the Mafia Channel. Right: Hauling at Swinford’s boatyard in Kilifi.
day, and whether ashore or underwater, we always enjoyed an extra day to explore. Roughly, our course would take us east to Pemba Island, south to Zanzibar, west to Dar es Salaam, and then south along the coast to the Mozambique frontier, mostly in day sails. Although I have had an opportunity to snorkel and dive in some of the clearest waters of the world, nothing compares to what was in store for us. Where the nutrient-rich waters of the South Equatorial Current collide with the east coast of Africa, the sea life and coral have no equal. We rarely anchored in more than eight meters, on sand, and the anchor and chain seemed as close as the bottom of our keel. Short distances between anchorages meant that on most days, there was time for a swim and snorkel. Zanzibar was as exotic as its name sounds. The harbor at Stone Town was wall-to-wall sailing dhows. Engineless, they ghosted across the water in light winds in the lee of the island, tacking their massive lateen-style sails with no human sound, only the creaking of the wooden boom on the wood stub of a mast. At dusk, with the sun in the west, it was ethereal. At night, in the harbor, contraband and “tax free” goods were moved among the dhows, evading the authorities as they have done for hundreds of years. Nothing much seemed to have changed since the Sultan of Kilwa controlled these waters in the 13th century. From the south end of Zanzibar, it was only a day sail to Dar es Salaam, where we enjoyed the creature comforts of the Dar es Salaam Yacht Club with lots of expat families and their screaming kids around the pool, joined by our equally happy and boisterous daughter. Our British friends joined us on their boat, and as Peter had only recently retired as the harbormaster of “Dar,” I received a behind-the-scenes tour of the not insignificant commercial harbor.
After a few days in Dar, we made our way south to Mafia Island. Of the three major offshore islands along the coast of Tanzania, Mafia is the smallest (the other two are Pemba and Zanzibar), although it historically rivaled Zanzibar as a commercial hub. The bay to the west of the island is protected from both the north-setting current and the strong southwesterly winds, which makes it ideal for leisurely day sails and overnight anchorages. The World Wildlife Fund has designated a large area as a marine park. The sleepy island capital of Kilindoni is a well-known game fishing and diving resort destination. We were now following the coast, trying to evade the strong south monsoon winds. We spent a day at Kilwa Kisiwani, now the site of ancient ruins, but at one time the wealthiest city on this part of the coast, so prominent that it had its own currency. The Kilwa sultan had a palace here, and gold from the interior of Mozambique was brought to the city. Continuing south, we entered a region covered only by our ancient British Admiralty chart. This had not yet been updated to WGS 84, so our GPS was more or less useless. Using a handbearing compass with the landmarks indicated on the chart, we tacked slowly up a shallow river to Lindi, but not without incident: we ran firmly aground on a shifting mud bank. There is only a two-meter range at neaps in this part of the world, but the last of a rising tide was enough to free us, enabling us to anchor in a deeper part of the river. From Mtwara, near the Mozambique frontier, we left for Mayotte, the only island in the Comoros to remain a French department. During the six-day passage to the middle of the Mozambique Channel, we experienced everything from flat calm to strong headwinds with uncharacteristically large seas. issue 62 2020
Below: In the Mafia Channel with local friends. Right: Chloe and a sand fort—day outing with members of the Tanga Yacht Club, Tanzania.
“No one trusted the water on the tap at the end of the quay, but the rum was universally given the thumbs-up ...” Our August 29 log reads “Whales! A pod, maybe six, we think humpbacks; right where the Lonely Planet said we might see them, in the waters between Grand Comore and Moheli Island to the southeast.” We would see whales on several occasions in the coming weeks. This was one of the migratory routes, and we were lucky to be here at the right time. You have to love the French. Wherever there is a French outpost, or a département d’outre-mer, there are bits of French culture, including fresh baguettes in the morning and Brie cheese melting on your plate in the tropical heat. Mayotte is a cruisers’ paradise. Remote, tropical, and surrounded by a barrier reef, it offers weeks or months of leisurely sailing in shallow, protected waters. At 13˚ south, it lies below the northern tip of Madagascar, a day-and-a-half sail to the east. I had heard a familiar-sounding voice on the East Africa Radio Net, but with poor propagation and a bad memory, I couldn’t place it. The following morning was a eureka moment when I heard Kiwi Roy Milford and his wife, Gloria, who were sailing south toward Mayotte and arrived within a day of us. (Five years earlier in St. Helena, I had left money with a local cook to bake a cake for their soon-to-occur wedding ceremony on the island.) We all anchored on the northeast side of Dzaoudzi, the former capital and the main French enclave, which sits on the eastern edge of the barrier reef surrounding Mayotte and the bigger island of Grande Terre. In the mornings, Roy and I took turns making a run in our dinghies for fresh baguettes and croissants. At cocktail hour, we washed the Brie down with a tasty Bordeaux. 82
A bit later during our two-week stay in Mayotte, we had worked our way south inside the reef. Anchored off Isle Bambo, not far from one of the many passes in the reef, we watched a mother humpback teach her calf how to breech. It was just us and our four-year-old daughter, sitting under the cockpit awning, our mouths agape, speechless. This was one of those magical moments that made all the challenges of cruising with a young child in a remote part of the world worth it, the type of experience I had hoped to share as a family during our trip around Africa. We were excited about visiting Madagascar and dropped the hook the night of our arrival at Nosy Mistio. (Nosy translates to “island.”) We were alone in the anchorage, with no sign of life on shore with the possible exception of a few decaying one-story structures. The boat floated motionless under a cloudless sky, giving us an opportunity to catch up on sleep after the passage from Mayotte. We had agreed to meet friends at Hellville (named after French Admiral Hell) on nearby Nosy Be, where we would clear in to Madagascar. No one trusted the water on the tap at the end of the quay, but the rum was universally given the thumbs-up and was probably not much difference in price per liter. It was common knowledge that you needed to take your own bottle (or jerry can!) to the local Chinese store before lunch. Using his mouth, the proprietor would siphon rum from a 55-gallon drum. He would wait until he had 12 bottles set up in a stained wooden crate, then begin to suck on the hose. Anyone who has had the displeasure of getting a siphon going on a jerry can of diesel knows that you often end up with some in your mouth, and so
Above: Lemurs on our friend Duncan Copeland’s shoulders in Nosy Be. Right: Lone Rival arrives in Richards Bay, South Africa.
it went for the Chinese gentleman. By midafternoon, he was happy, and by the end of each day, he was asleep in his chair. The author of the East Africa Pilot pointed out that the main street, running from the port up to the church, was called Cours de Hell, which translates (very) roughly to “Highway to Hell,” perhaps not the intention of either the planners or the Catholic Church. We couldn’t leave before spending an afternoon at Lokobe Nature Reserve, where we got to feed bananas to curious and basically tame lemurs. There were now three or four cruising boats heading south along the coast, more or less at the same time. Chloe had a friend nearby, and each night offered a different isolated anchorage, with rarely another soul except for the occasional fellow cruiser. Trailing a “meat hook” behind the boat, secured backward to the secondary winch, meant that when the lure was taken, the spinning winch would announce what we hoped to be dinner that night. Seldom were we disappointed along this stretch of water. Generally only day sailing, we arrived at Majunga, our last stop in Madagascar, still on the northwest coast. It was mid-October, and I wanted to be in South Africa by the first of November. We would be hard on the wind for the nearly 1,200-nautical-mile passage to Richards Bay, and I wanted to put it behind us. We would see our friends again in the coming weeks, but this part of our adventure was over.
About the Author Mark Scott makes his home in Barcelona, where he lives aboard his well-traveled 1977 Rival 38, Lone Rival. Coached by Scott and Kitty Kuhner (NYS), he left the U.S. East Coast in June of 1987 for a four-year circumnavigation via the Panama Canal and Cape Town. He was joined by Liz Hammick in 1989. In 1991, they returned to New York City. In 1994, Mark and Liz left with their daughter Chloe, not quite two years old, to sail the African coast. After a nearly 30-year career in architecture, Mark retired, and in the summer of 2005, the family sailed transatlantic to England. issue 62 2020
CRUISING as a
by Dick Stevenson, New York Station
RUISING is a wide-ranging term and many variations of wandering by boat fit under its umbrella. In this article, I offer thumbnail sketches of the various styles of cruising and elaborate on what a “lifestyle” of cruising looks like—a style with perhaps the fewest participants among sailors, but where one may reap rich rewards. Special attention is paid to the personal demands that cruising can command. In conclusion, I sketch out the path my wife, Ginger, and I took to embarking on this cruising journey. A WORD OF WARNING For the past 17 years, our 40-foot sailboat has been our primary home. For the first 12 years, we lived aboard full-time, and in the past five years, we have been six months on and six months off. We are closing in on 70,000 miles under our keel and have visited over 40 countries by boat. This style of living has made possible our sustained immersion in personal interests and pursuits. We are emphatically not looking for daring-do on the high seas, adrenalin rushes, and accomplishments of the “oh wow” variety; quite the opposite, in fact, as that kind of cruising is not sustainable over time. It’s about a way of living where our interests—history, culture, nature, people, sailing (of course), and learning about new and different ways of living well in this world—are front and center. Drama and adventure, which do occur, are artifacts of living a rich, active life on the sea that is bound to have surprises. We love to sail and we love to travel, and we love our own pillow at night and our own mug of tea in the morning—and so, although we did not actually plan it, cruising became a lifestyle. Left: You get the freedom to anchor in places like Kotor, Montenegro. Top: “Office” work—the author at the computer. issue 62 2020
VARIATIONS ON THE CRUISING LIFE There are numerous ways to go cruising on a sailboat—and, more recently, on wide-ranging recreational power vessels. To many people, completing a circumnavigation is considered the holy grail of cruising. Some go slowly and relish a long voyage, a very few keep going around and around, while others settle in an area discovered en route. But most consider this accomplishment an interlude, much like climbing Mount Everest: a period of time, a chunk of finances, and a good deal of energy is set aside to accomplish this impressive task before a return to land-based pursuits and more episodic cruising. Expedition cruising is by definition time-limited and goaloriented and plays a close second to circumnavigating in the interest, press, and accolades it receives. Good examples of this would be doing the Northwest Passage, sailing to Svalbard, or doubling Cape Horn. Sabbatical cruisers choose to live on their boat full-time for a year or two in order to accomplish a goal, such as spending a season in the Caribbean. Periodic/vacation cruisers carve out a few weeks or months each season and then return to their land base, often leaving their boat in wonderful cruising grounds and returning the following year to further explore or move on elsewhere. Perhaps the largest cruising group (and now we are getting to those who may consider their boat their primary residence) are the “snow birds” of North America: south for the winter and north in the summer. This can be quite adventurous, with forays into Central America and the northwest Caribbean when south, and the Canadian Maritimes when north. A less demanding approach includes anchorages in Florida or the Bahamas in the winter and the Chesapeake or New England in the summer. This cruising pattern enhances opportunities for regular get-togethers with friends and fellow boaters, embedding one in a large and varied community in generally familiar, safe surroundings with easily available support. Some who live on their boats full-time end up settling in one country or area and “go native”—they learn the language, get residency, and often slip out of cruising mode, although they may still live aboard. Probably the smallest group with the lowest profile are those whose interests lead them to cruising as a lifestyle. They choose to live aboard a boat full-time, wander widely, and follow their interests and see where that takes them, usually with the intention of moving slowly to new and different places. These cruisers have often limited their land-based presence by selling or renting out their house and cars. Sometimes they leave with clear ideas as to what they want to do for a year or two, which might easily change as they settle 86
Repairs in exotic places—the author rebedding a chain plate.
into their new routine. Some, often single-handers or young couples, weave together a livelihood with their live-aboard life. A number have retired early—our story—to ensure ample time for their cruising pursuits. Then there are those who start post-retirement, hoping to pull off some good years of this occasionally vigorous lifestyle.
BUT FIRST, THERE ARE CHALLENGES Over the years, in chats with other couples thinking of more extended cruising, a whole list of “you gottas” has evolved— caveats, if you will, for couples who live aboard full-time until it is no longer fun or something pulls them away. It is one thing, often exhilarating, to experience challenge and hardship on a time-limited endeavor, where the return to comfort can be a carrot on a stick to spur motivation. It is quite another when those challenges are ongoing, day in and day out—just everyday life, where a formerly engaging problem transforms to an irritant. Then, one’s motivation must be strong. Probably the most important “you gotta” is to be on the same page (or close to it) as your partner. Many a cruising life has foundered on differing goals, expectations, or agendas. There needs to be an equality of commitment and responsibility in the decisions that guide your choices. Where one participant is merely a passenger, the cruise is often cut short or doesn’t go well.
“Master” bedroom, shared with spinnaker and bedroll.
The galley benefits from creative space allocation.
You gotta like, or learn to like, living in small spaces. Alchemy, our Valiant, is 40 feet long on deck and its interior volume is quite a bit smaller than that of contemporary designs. But even large vessels do not have nearly the space which land bases provide. Many a kitchen has more interior space than our entire boat. This is mitigated somewhat by the fact that one often spends a great deal of time outside and one’s interests are focused off the boat.
electrician, or building superintendent, now demand your skills and perseverance. And where skills and experience are limited, perseverance becomes very important.
You gotta like intimacy. You are very close all of the time. Far more is shared, and there is little opportunity to get away or be on your own. Privacy is often just not possible. The ironic flip side is that one must also have a tolerance for isolation as there will be times when there are few distractions, social or otherwise, from your partner and the boat. We are rarely separated by more than 15 feet for days or weeks on end and on offshore passages, we are never more than 40 feet apart. (Our longer passages have generally been just the two of us.) More than a few friends have commented that their marriages would never survive this degree of closeness. I in no way suspect that this implies any flaw or vulnerability in a marriage. Not all couples are comfortable with a high degree of intimacy and isolation, with having one’s social eggs in only one basket, and with complete interdependence. On offshore passages, getting a good sleep with your partner on watch is a testament to one’s faith in the reliability of your partner. A cruising relationship is not for every couple and takes some getting used to. You gotta not get upset when long-forgotten—maybe never learned—skills are called upon. Repairs are needed regularly, but there are also more mundane tasks, like dishwashing: for almost two decades, we have handwashed every pot, pan, dish, and glass. Occasionally, one must wash clothes by hand. Both tasks need doing with a minimum of fresh water. Repairs that would, in a former life, generate a call to the plumber,
You gotta like “partnering up.” Couples may have thought they lived lives of shared decision-making ashore, but the degree of collaboration, the necessity for interdependence, and the dire consequences of poor communication or collaboration make land-based partnering pale by comparison. This was by far the most challenging aspect of our first years on board and was largely unanticipated. Successfully weathered, it brought us greater closeness and strengthened our bond. You gotta tolerate nearly every activity being significantly more difficult than it was on shore. There is no workshop where all the tools are ready at hand. Spare parts are buried and a challenge to get at, even when you actually remember where they are stored. Often there is time pressure: the refrigeration or toilet is needed. Counter and table space are limited, and consider yourself fortunate if you have a vice and workbench. There is no office, gym, washer, dryer, or bathtub. There is no KitchenAid, lathe, or table saw. Things are done the oldfashioned way, by hand. You gotta tolerate less contact with family and friends (and their assessment may be that what you are doing is a bit wacko). This separation may be the most potent caveat for many. The flip side, for us, was the unexpected and wonderful making of new friends whom we will be in touch with for the rest of our lives. You (likely) gotta tolerate some degree of financial insecurity, health insurance uncertainty, and curtailed access to trusted professionals, including doctors, lawyers, and mechanics. Some bases may feel “uncovered.” Even adult children benefit from regular contact with their parents—and not only do we have three adult children, but two of our parents were alive when we left and needed occasional attention. Seventeen years ago, this issue 62 2020
Sometimes you are isolated and on your own.
was far more of an issue, and it’s a boon that communication has improved so dramatically. That said, a phone call from another country, across an ocean, feels far different from a phone call from a neighboring town. You gotta tolerate the possibility—probability if you live this life for a while—of health care that’s far different from what you expect in the U.S., taxicabs that would never pass an OSHA inspection, and food that would never meet U.S. safety standards. But you will certainly survive, possibly even thrive, through all of it. You (likely) gotta be prepared for a bit of a shock that there is still much to learn about cruising, even though you may have been “vacation cruising” for decades. You gotta get comfortable living with some degree of risk. Most of us do not consider risk when we get on a highway or park the car, but any passage and every anchorage entails a risk assessment. It may sound silly, but one is best served by embracing a chronic low-grade anxiety and wariness. Is the anchorage safe? What is the weather report? How do I reach open water if a midnight bailout is necessary? Things that could go wrong sound a constant background mantra. This wariness and vigilance can be wearying at times, but it is what keeps you, your partner, and your home safe. You gotta like new things: every anchorage, marina, and town is different. Every new country is a learning experience. We often average 40–70 new harbors a season, and one season we entered 11 countries. Where is the best place to anchor? Is the marina side-tie, Med-moor, or one of the myriad other variations? You gotta, if you wander widely, tolerate times when internet is limited or nonexistent. Even where coverage exists, you may 88
Our 40-foot-overall boat length is on the smaller side among U.S. cruising boats. In more than ten years in the Mediterranean and Northern Europe, we met hundreds of U.S.-flagged boats and only very few were smaller than ours. In Northern Europe, U.S. boats were far less common, and the boats of other nationalities were more modest in size. The primary reason we occasionally wished for a larger boat was to have longer legs so we could reach an anchorage before nightfall, but many elements of cruising are made easier by having a modestly sized boat. That said, clearly the trend is toward larger boats.
“pay-as-you-go” and will monitor your usage much as you do water or propane. YouTube and Facebook, with their gigabyte consuming properties, become a choice rather than a given. You gotta tolerate reinventing the wheel. We need to find 30-plus new supermarkets a year, find where the sugar and tea are shelved in each one, and determine whether it carries our preferred brand of yogurt. You gotta like—or at least tolerate—making mistakes, such as ending up (surprise!) with horseradish mayonnaise because you can’t read the language, let alone the fine print. You gotta be willing to make real and substantial sacrifices. Those who embark on this life when young are likely sacrificing career-development opportunities and financial security in their older years. Those who leave in middle age, as we did, may sacrifice the full flowering of their careers and growth in their retirement portfolio. Those who wait until retirement age may have limited their cruising life, which is best enjoyed in good physical health and which calls for occasional vigorous activity. I would think that anyone heading down this path will experience some misgivings, financial or otherwise, and ask, “Am I crazy to be doing this?” One must hold on to the reality that these sacrifices buy time to do exactly what you want, when the restrictions that have governed your life no longer have such powerful sway. This time is a valuable and unpredictably limited resource. We could have continued working and that would have been fine: a good life. There were absolutely things we left undone. But like many in middle age, we saw a plateauing of the richness and diversity coming into our lives. We were fortunate to have the financial means, although we certainly crossed our fingers during the first few years.
You do not gotta have a bucketful of money. We are often asked for specifics: How much is needed? There is some good writing in this area—Beth Leonard’s The Voyager’s Handbook: The Essential Guide to Blue Water Cruising for one—but my answer takes a different form. If you spent overly in your landbased life, you will find ample opportunity to do so while cruising. If you lived within your means on shore, you are likely to take that same wisdom and discipline with you. In other words, handling finances is more a matter of who you are and how you conduct your life than any actual amount.
palm trees for shade, beaches that we enjoyed, and snorkeling and diving that we loved. But these pleasures started to pale against our fascination with the tales of an ancient world that lay in the jungles of Belize, Mexico, and Guatemala. The Greek and Roman ruins, the pyramids of Egypt, and the overall history of the Mediterranean became a siren call, drowning out the palm trees and sandy beaches of the Pacific. The cradle of our Western world was, more or less, completely accessible in the cruising grounds of the Mediterranean. We set our course east and spent the next decade exploring much of the European coast.
Most of us could consider the bulk of the above, or even all of the above, as doable, but it is one thing to appraise feasibility within the context of a monthlong holiday or a sabbatical year, and quite another when it becomes every day, month in, month out, year in, year out. This is not a time-limited excursion where you will return home to be snug, warm, showered, and clean after a period in the wilderness.
OUR CRUISING REALITY Ginger and I are not long-haired, barefoot, bohemian vagabonds who live on the fringes. We did retire from our professional lives early, motivated, in part, by a parent whose life was unexpectedly curtailed in full bloom. We had no wish to take chances on having time for our dreams. A small(ish) boat notwithstanding, we are in no way “camping.” We are very comfortable in our everyday lives and, I promise you, we’re not stoics. We have a four-burner stove with oven and broiler. We have heat. We have hot water, a freezer and fridge, and a dedicated shower room (albeit the size of a phone booth). We read by electric lights and are comfortable in all aspects of living on the boat, whether at anchor or underway. We have more than the essentials and want for nothing (except possibly space, but in the end, we have found this to be overrated). Most of the irritants, often petty, are softened and ameliorated by the clarity and the awareness that we are traveling to stupendous places, meeting wonderful people, experiencing fascinating cultures, learning history, and seeing amazing sights—all this while returning to our own bed at night and waking to our own mug of tea in the morning. It doesn’t get much better. Some of it is mindset: What we think of as cozy, others might consider cramped. Partly, it is knowing what is personally important (and what is not). I often feel a twinge of annoyance when I must put away a project so we have a table to eat at. But small spaces keep you focused, and that is a good thing. Strong personal motivations, but not overly firm plans, are a key to success. For example, after we spent two winters in Central America, we decided to head east across the Atlantic rather than west into the Pacific as we had, heretofore, vaguely thought we’d do. Our plans started to shift, unexpectedly, when we found ourselves entranced by the Mayan ruins and their history (to the extent that anyone really knows it). There were
About the Author Dick Stevenson, a retired clinical psychologist/ psychoanalyst, and his wife, Ginger, a former teacher, have made their home aboard their cutter, Alchemy, a Valiant 42, for most of the last 17 years. They started with 25 years of cruising the East Coast, from Bermuda to Maine, with their three children. In 2002 they retired, sold the house, and moved aboard full time. They have wandered in Central America, the Bahamas, and parts of the Eastern Caribbean. In 2006 they crossed the North Atlantic with stops in Bermuda and the Azores, and spent several seasons in the Mediterranean. In addition to the usual Med cruising grounds, they were fortunate to sail to Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Egypt. After years in warm climates, they sailed to northern Europe, where they had the joy of sailing as far east as St. Petersburg, Russia, and above the Arctic Circle in Norway. Five years was not nearly enough time for these northern European waters, but being closer to family was beckoning, so a year ago they crossed the North Atlantic by way of the Faroe Islands, Iceland, and Greenland before fetching up in Newfoundland, Canada. issue 62 2020
A tie in: North Channel of Lake Huron.
Felix at Mark and Barbara Ellis’s (ESS) Dumbfounder Island.
Felix Cruises the Great Loop by Tom and Dorothy Wadlow, Essex Station
hat does a cruising couple do when they decide it is time to sell their beloved sailboat after 22 years and over 90,000 miles of travel to more than 50 countries? For us, the answer was easy. We did not want to give up life on the water, and we wanted to keep visiting new places. The Great Loop was the perfect start to our new life without Joyant. The Great Loop is a circular voyage around the eastern United States and Canada, mostly on inland waterways. The basic route takes you along the East Coast Intracoastal Waterway, up the Hudson River and canals to the Great Lakes, then down more rivers and canals from Chicago to the Gulf Coast. You can start anywhere on the Loop route, but Florida is most popular. Leaving from there in the spring puts you in the Canadian cruising grounds on the Great Lakes in the summer and returns you to Florida for the next winter. 90
The Loop has grown popular, especially with adventurous recent retirees. In 2018, about 100 boats carrying almost 300 people completed the Loop. Since everyone has their own schedule, with some taking several years and wintering the boat along the way, it rarely feels crowded. Almost all Loopers belong to the America’s Great Loop Cruisers’ Association (AGLCA), an active organization which holds conferences and runs a daily email forum to share advice and experiences. The AGLCA burgee helps Loopers recognize each other. More than one Looper boat at any given stop usually results in “docktails,” where participants bring their own drinks and hors d’oeuvres to share on the dock or other convenient location. There is an ongoing social scene, with some Loopers bonding and traveling together, and others, like us, traveling independently but running into the same people numerous times.
The Harlem River north of Manhattan in New York City, infrequently traveled by yachts.
“Since everyone has their own schedule,
with some taking several years and wintering the boat along the way, it rarely feels crowded.
The AGLCA forum has endless discussions on choosing the best boat for doing the Loop. You can do it in a sailboat, but low bridges require taking the mast down for most of the trip. You then have to carry it on deck or have it shipped to an end point. Many of the Loopers we met were on comfortable, liveaboard trawlers. Most, but not all, had prior boating experience. For our own foray into the “dark side,” we chose a power catamaran. After Joyant was settled in with happy new owners, we purchased a 2007 PDQ 41, built in Canada. Since she is a cat, we wanted a cat name and settled on Felix, after a childhood pet in Tom’s family. The Latin root of the name means happiness (think feliz navidad), which we thought was an apropos sequel to the similar meaning of joyant. Felix can cruise at 18 knots, uses much less fuel than monohull power boats, and her two 260-horsepower Yanmars, derived from BMWs, are relatively quiet underway. Although we often cruise at eight knots for better enjoyment of the scenery, it is nice to be able to go faster when you want to. We normally steer from the upper helm on the flying bridge, but can also switch to the helm below during poor weather. Without taking down the upper bimini, our air draft is 19 feet, which enables us to get under the necessary fixed bridges. Compared to the six-foot, three-inch draft on Joyant, deeper than desirable for the Loop, Felix draws only three feet, which also makes her an excellent Bahamas boat.
After several months of refitting Felix, we began our Loop at Stuart, Florida, in April 2018. The various sections of the Loop are so different in conditions and terrain that we thought of the trip as a group of linked smaller cruises. Our first leg was up the ICW to New York. Felix’s shallow draft allowed us to complete sections of the ICW we had not done before. The Dismal Swamp was beautiful and not dismal for us. We found birds on their northward migration and met our first fellow Loopers. North of New York City, we were in new boating territory. The trip up the Hudson River is very scenic. We spent a memorable July 4 weekend at a small marina in Hyde Park, including dinner at the Culinary Institute of America and a visit to the Franklin D. Roosevelt home. Just north of Albany, we turned left into the Erie Canal, where we encountered our first lock on Felix—the first of 110 we would pass through on the Loop. The locks on the different waterways were often configured differently. The easiest had floating bollards, recessed into the lock walls, that you passed a midships line around and back to the boat. Another variant had you passing forward and aft lines around cables, which were secured vertically to the top and bottom of the lock wall. The most work was when you had forward and aft lines attached issue 62 2020
Left: Felix in the lower pan on a hydraulic lock, about to be lifted to where the photographer is standing. Above: An easy-to-tie-to floating bollard. Below: Entering a lock on the Trent-Severn Waterway.
“Our highest point [on the Trent-Severn Waterway] was 844 feet above sea level. The waterway is 240 miles long, with 44 locks.” to the top of the lock that you had to tend as the lock filled or emptied. Getting secured was always interesting, but fortunately the power cat is quite maneuverable. We ran into several brave single-handers, which is a challenge. Often you can tie to walls near the lock before or after locking through to spend the night, and most towns along the route have moorage or marinas. Little Falls, New York, at the site of the Erie Canal’s tallest lock, was a favorite. The harbormaster gave us a tour of the town in his car, and we rode a well-maintained bike trail along the canal. After completing about half of the Erie Canal, we turned north into the Oswego Canal to get to Lake Ontario near its eastern end. It was an easy detour to the scenic Thousand Islands region at the head of the St. Lawrence River, with its interesting historical sights. We were lucky to rendezvous with our friends Mark and Barbara Ellis (ESS) at their cottage on Dumbfounder Island and get their local insights. 92
The Trent-Severn Waterway, which cuts across Canada from the northeast part of Lake Ontario to the North Channel of Lake Huron, was a high point of the Loop for us, both geographically and figuratively. Our highest point was 844 feet above sea level. The waterway is 240 miles long, with 44 locks. Originally built for lumber transport, there is very little commercial traffic today. It is only open for the summer months, and the lock tenders are mostly students. Canada sees visiting boats as tourism, which they want to encourage, so good people skills are a qualification for this sought-after job, and they enjoy interacting with the boaters. Between the locks are lakes and rivers with a surprising number of summer homes. The waterway has mostly conventional locks, but it also has two sets of linked locks (known as flights), two hydraulic-lift locks, and a marine railway. The hydraulic-lift locks have two counterbalanced pans, connected by cables over pulleys. As one pan goes up, the other one comes down. Yachts enter the pans through doors in the ends. The upper one then takes on some
Above: View from the bridge as we are about to head down the Big Chute. Left: The Big Chute “lock” on the Trent-Severn Waterway.
extra water, allowing it to lift the lower pan with the yachts floating in it. The process is a perfect example of Archimedes’ principle, since the number and size of the boats in the lock makes no difference to the weight of the water-filled pan. One of the last locks is called the Big Chute and is actually a marine railway. It looks as if it were designed by Rube Goldberg, but it will successfully transport a half-dozen boats of varying sizes and bottom configurations several hundred yards. It is quite an experience to stand on the boat’s bridge as you rumble across a road, then tilt down a long hill.
At the end of the Trent-Severn, you are about 600 feet above sea level in Georgian Bay, which leads to the North Channel. The entire area is great cruising. Some describe it as Maine without the lobster pots, tides, fog, mosquitos, and salt water. We enjoyed quiet anchorages, dinghy touring, and hiking. At the west end of the North Channel is Mackinac Island, which has beautifully restored homes, good dining, and lovely bike trails. No motor vehicles are allowed, so all transportation is by horse-drawn carriage—even the Amazon package deliveries. Staying at the Mackinac Island State Dock marina allows you to see the best of the island in the mornings and evenings, when the tourist boats are gone. For our next cruise segment, we headed south on Lake Michigan to Chicago. You can choose to travel via the east coast in Michigan or the west coast in Wisconsin. We chose the Michigan coast and found travel a bit difficult. The area is popular with local vacationers and Loopers during August, and our first choice of harbors often had no unreserved slips. Sheltered anchorage areas were rare. The weather provided an issue 62 2020
Left: Felix arrives in Chicago. Below: Yes, we made it under the concrete, with several feet to spare!
added challenge as the benign summer was transitioning into fall. Good days for travel on the lake were interspersed with windy days. We had to plan ahead as much as possible to get a place for the boat, but be ready to make a big jump on the good days. Felix’s 18-knot cruising speed was a significant advantage. We arrived in Chicago in time for our Labor Day reservation at the downtown DuSable Harbor Marina. Since neither of us had spent any time in Chicago before, we made that stop a priority and enjoyed walking the city, museums, and restaurants, and especially the architectural tour by boat. Just south of Chicago is a famous point on the Loop—a decrepit old fixed railway bridge with a 19.7-foot clearance, the Loop’s lowest. All Loopers must pass under this bridge. Boats have done amazing things to get under it, including putting enormous weights on deck to sink lower in the water and disassembling superstructures. Fortunately, Felix gets to 19 feet merely by lowering our forward running light. We could get considerably lower by removing our upper bimini and pivoting the radar arch down, but that is a big project and thankfully wasn’t necessary. We did approach rather cautiously to avoid paying an expensive price for a measurement error. South of Chicago is an area known as “the rivers.” We traveled on the Illinois, Mississippi, Ohio, Cumberland, Tennessee, and Mobile rivers, several lakes, and the Tennessee–Tombigbee Waterway to reach the Gulf of Mexico. Once in the rivers, we had left the predominantly recreational waters. Commercial traffic, mostly tows, has the right of way. Felix has AIS, which is a big help since we can see what is coming around curves and we can hail tows by name. We were surprised to learn that a fair percentage of Loopers did not have AIS. Locks on the big rivers are 600 feet by 110 feet, except for some newer locks on the Mississippi that are 1,200 feet long. American barges are 195 feet by 35 feet, so without the towboat, nine can fit in a 600-foot lock. Though rare, tows can be as large as 42 barges, about three times the footprint of a Panamax ship. 94
Above: A twisty section of the Tombigbee River. The shallower depth shown on the Garmin chartplotter is under the starboard hull. The deeper depth on the Raymarine depth sounder is under the port hull, consistent with the chart. Two widely separated sounders are helpful.
Many tows must be “cut” to go through locks in multiple stages, and then made up again on the far side. Watching the process is fascinating. On the rivers there is new language to be learned. For example: »» All locations and directions are relative to LDB or RDB—left descending bank or right descending bank. »» A fleeting area is where tows are made up and broken up. »» Power is supplied by towboats, but towboats never tow, they always push. The term dates from when barges were towed by horses on the bank. »» Our boat is a PC (pleasure craft), not a yacht or powerboat.
On the Tombigbee, it was very nice to have AIS telling you what was coming around the next curve.
»» To “hold up” is to put the bow of the lead barge into the bank (generally the LDB) while a downstream tow (the stand-on vessel in the COLREGS) passes. A typical exchange between us (Felix) and a tow (the Daisy Mae) in a passing situation might be: “Daisy Mae, this is Felix, the downstream PC a mile ahead of you. How would you like to see me?” “Felix, this is Daisy, I’ll see you on the two.” “Thanks, Daisy, see you on the two.” Those familiar with the COLREGS will know that this means Daisy prefers a two-whistle pass, or starboard-tostarboard, perhaps because he plans to be near the left bank to position himself for a right-hand bend. On wider sections of the rivers, one-whistle passes are the norm, as they are elsewhere. Nowadays, whistles are rarely used, but the term is still used in radio contact. Daisy might have replied that we should hold up because he would be doing a power slide around a bend and taking up much of the river. When we held up, we did not need to put the bow into the bank as the tows do, since we are very maneuverable and holding station was easy. On the rivers, Loopers often worked together to pass through the locks at the same time, which was greatly preferred by the lockmasters. The night before, those Loopers leaving the next day would select a lead boat to call the next lock in the morning and notify the fleet. We then knew the best time to show up, and the lockkeepers knew when and how many PCs to expect. With only a few exceptions, all of the lockmasters were friendly and helpful. Only once were we seriously delayed (by six hours) and had to lock through and proceed to the next marina at night.
In the larger rivers, the Mississippi and Ohio, currents were swift and floating debris was common but varied in amount. When the water rises, the amount of debris increases as it floats off the banks. When the water level drops, the amount of debris decreases as it hangs up on the banks. The rise and fall are often determined by rainstorms hundreds of miles away, perhaps on a river that feeds your river, or as a result of lock water management. For example, when the river was in near-flood stage upriver of Alton, Illinois, there was record low water in our marina in Alton. The reason? The Army Corps of Engineers lowered the flood gate height on a downstream lock to ensure sufficient reserve capacity to accommodate more water coming down toward the lock. Being just upstream of this lock lowered our level. There are few marinas and few good anchorages on the big rivers. You need to be very careful anchoring off to the side out of the channel, since on occasion, tows accidentally get out of the channel at night or in fog and can run down anchored vessels. The good places are protected from both up-bound and down-bound tows. The best places are often behind islands. You also need to recognize that the water level can change considerably overnight, as the Army Corps of Engineers open and close flood gates. From our vantage point, up high on Felix, we were able to see debris, so we never hit anything significant, but we knew several Loopers who did. The only time we had any real concern was for a few days on the Mississippi, with four-to-six knots of current and a lot of debris. Even in the deeper water of a big river with the stronger current, eddies could cause debris to surface unexpectedly. We were happy to turn left on the Ohio and head upstream for a few days. You can take the Mississippi issue 62 2020
Top left: A towboat dock on the Mississippi. Top right: Passing a tow on the Illinois River. Above: The town dock at Paducah, Kentucky.
all the way south to New Orleans, but most people find the Ohio and Tennessee rivers and the “Tenn-Tom” man-made waterway to be more pleasant. The Tenn-Tom, which connects the Tennessee and Tombigbee rivers, is an interconnected series of lakes, canals, and rivers through very pretty land. Anchorages are more frequent, and there are some upscale marinas. The towns along the rivers revealed a slice of middle America we had never seen before. People were exceptionally friendly and helpful. Many of the towns are economically run down, part of a forgotten America, and Loopers make a positive addition to their economy. Robert Wadlow, the most famous citizen of Alton, Illinois, who died in 1940, was said to be the tallest man in the world, so Tom was a minor celebrity. If they are related, it is quite distant. Our favorite river town was Paducah, Kentucky. We happened to arrive with numerous other Loopers on the weekend of their Barbecue on the River festival. Proceeds from the food booths go to local charities, and it was fun to enjoy the festivities and sample the food. Paducah is the home of the National Quilt Museum, which has terrific exhibits of quilt art. Paducah loves the Loopers. Dorothy made the front page of the local newspaper, which sent a reporter and photographer to the dock when we were there. 96
One of Dorothy’s favorite things about Felix is the unobstructed 360-degree view from the flying bridge, perfect for birdwatching. Binoculars, notepad, and camera were always on the bridge underway. We were migrating with the birds, north in the spring and south, down the rivers, in the fall. It was encouraging to see the quantity and diversity of species in areas where you might not expect them, especially along the rivers. We spotted bald eagles in every state and province, including many nests. We also had wonderful views of large American white pelican flocks, migrating south along with us. Dorothy reports birds seen to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s database through their eBird app. Ornithologists and other birders use the sighting data to track trends in species quantities and distribution. Uploading the sightings was easier than we would have expected. With an unlimited ATT cellular data plan, we tethered our laptops to the phone, which enabled us to make calls and access the internet. Everything worked in Canada as well, at no extra cost. We experienced only a few brief periods on the entire Loop when we had no connectivity. What a change from just a few years ago! To reduce the hurricane risk, our insurance required us to be north of 32˚ north until November 1. As a result, the
White pelicans along a river. Left: Dorothy listing birds for the eBird app.
furthest south we could go until then was Demopolis, Alabama, where the Black Warrior River joins the Tombigbee River. Running a week or so ahead of schedule, we slowed our pace, with time to rent cars for side trips to the Civil War battlefield at the Shiloh National Military Park, grand Southern mansions, and national wildlife refuges. We were in the process of seeking approval from our insurance company to proceed south prior to November 1 when Hurricane Michael devastated the area east of Mobile. The timing did not help our case, but we did eventually get permission to proceed south a week early. Before leaving the rivers, we stopped at Bobby’s Fish Camp, a classic dock and restaurant known for its fried local catfish. Loopers make up a significant percentage of their clientele. Turning east at Mobile, we passed through the Gulf Coast ICW, along the Florida Panhandle, which had recently been demolished by Hurricane Michael. It was sad to see roofs blown off or covered in tarps, boats washed ashore, and trees blown down. We saw where the eye had passed through, because at that point the direction in which the trees fell switched 180 degrees. We didn’t linger. At Carrabelle, Florida, the eastern end of the Gulf ICW, we (and most other Loopers) did a 150-nautical mile run to just north of St. Petersburg. For numerous Loopers on trawlers who didn’t have overnight or offshore experience, this was a dreaded passage. We were able to cross in a long day trip, going at Felix’s fast cruise speed. After several more stops on Florida’s west coast, we turned west through Lake Okeechobee and completed our Loop at Stuart, where we had started seven months earlier. We were now able to proudly fly the gold AGLCA burgee, which shows that we have completed the Loop.
The Loop is a great way to see parts of the United States and Canada that many of us coastal dwellers aren’t familiar with. We saw places that exceeded our expectations and enjoyed the variety of scenery as well as the people we met along the way. The boat handling and seamanship requirements are quite different from ocean sailing, and we would expect that most sailors would come away from completing the Loop with enhanced cruising knowledge and skills. We encourage others to become Loopers.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS Tom and Dorothy Wadlow have raced and cruised a series of boats since before they were married. After retiring, they sailed their previous boat, Joyant, over 90,000 miles. Many of their destinations took them to high latitudes, including Labrador, Alaska, Chile, and Svalbard, above the Arctic Circle in Norway. They both have USCG 100-ton masters licenses. They are pictured here at Cinco Estrellas harbor, off the Beagle Channel, Chile.
issue 62 2020
Boston to Nova Scotia and the Great Lakes: A One-Year Journey of Discovery by Dee and Jim Woodward, Boston Station
hen we first started planning our 2018 voyage in late 2017, we had no good grasp of the distances involved. The lakes are “great,” but it’s not the lakes that put on the miles; it’s getting there and home again. It’s 1,510 miles from Boston to the east end of Lake Ontario and another 840 from there to Isle Royale on the north side of Lake Superior. We traveled 5,280 miles and went through 19 locks, one of them four times, for a total of 40 lockings. Others have done this trip in two years, leaving the boat somewhere
in the lakes for the winter and returning the next year. We’ve lived aboard in Boston since 2013 so that wasn’t an option, but having another month would have been better. We traveled in style aboard our ex-Royal Navy fleet tender, Fintry, 79 feet overall and 180-long-tons displacement when full with 5,200 gallons of fuel. We have converted Fintry, our project since 2002, from a no-bunks transport with subway seats to an elegant motor yacht. She has a Cat 3406 for the main, a five-foot propeller, and rudder to match. With her 60-horsepower bowthruster, she’s very easy to handle in close quarters, but hard to steer straight by hand. She cruises at eight knots, burning less than a gallon per mile. And, as you might guess from the photos, she is too tall for the Erie Canal, so our route took us around Nova Scotia and up the St. Lawrence River. In addition to the two of us, also aboard at the start were Larry Hennessy, our old friend and watch captain for more than 10,000 miles, and Chuck and Carl Koch, father Fintry being prepped for the trip at Fairhaven Shipyard.
The Pont de Quebec carries road and rail, while the Pont Pierre-Laporte, upstream of it, is road only. Six miles upstream of Quebec, they are the first road crossings of the river. The next is at Trois-Rivières, 60 miles upstream.
Le Château Frontenac dominates the Quebec skyline.
and son, friends of friends who proved to be excellent crew and companions. We left Boston for the longest open-water passage of the trip, 250 miles to Cape Sable, on Friday, June 1. We don’t like leaving on Fridays, but the weather forecast called for deteriorating conditions from Saturday afternoon on for six days. While we had a week’s slack built into the schedule, using it all at the start wasn’t good, so we agreed that it was best to go. While Saturday afternoon was pretty rough, it turned out to be a good decision. We day-hopped along the Nova Scotia coast in moderately nasty weather. After stopping in Lunenburg for 36 hours to wait out a nor’easter, we started the long haul to the lakes in earnest with a straight run to Rimouski, Quebec, 680 miles and threeand-a-half days away. We cruised by day up the river, stopping at Cap-à-l’Aigle marina and then Quebec, where we locked into the marina and had a great dinner ashore. At Quebec, the St. Lawrence River has 20-foot tides and currents to match. Unfortunately, the moon did not cooperate with our plans, and it took 11 hours to make the 67 miles to Trois-Rivières, even with Fintry’s engine cranked up to make nine knots through the water. At times, we were making only three knots over the ground. The tide dies out at Trois-Rivières, so by then there’s only the river’s current against you. We made the 56 miles to Montreal in eight hours, though the last two miles into the Quai Jacques-Cartier marina were difficult—the whole river is squeezed into a narrow passage and can run as fast as six knots. In Montreal, we were joined by Debbie Durand and her sister, Kathy Skrupkis. Debbie is our son’s mother-in-law. The two of them have been cruising with us since 2015. We left the
We saw CSL St-Laurent, a typical Seawaymax laker, several times. The mural depicts a Canada goose and celebrates Canada’s 150th and Montreal’s 375th anniversaries.
marina bright and early, having been advised on the web that recreational boats could start locking through at 0900. Not! In the Saint Lawrence Seaway, commercial traffic has absolute priority over recreational boats, so if there’s a “laker” going either way, you wait, and wait, and .... There are two classes of lakers—Seawaymax (740 x 78 feet), which can go through the Welland Canal and the Saint Lawrence Seaway and out to sea, and the 13 boats that don’t fit through the Welland, so can transit only the upper four lakes. These are typically 1,000 x 105 feet or so. Lakers, by the way, are traditionally referred to as “boats,” like submarines and tugs, not “ships.” We entered Saint Lambert Lock at 1230 and Côte Sainte Catherine Lock, seven miles upriver, in late afternoon. Having made a whopping 18 miles and being too late for the next set of locks, we anchored overnight in Lac Saint-Louis, near the Barrage (dam) de Beauharnois. The following day we went through the two Beauharnois Locks, the first of the 40-footdeep locks that make up most of the system. We went through in the morning, and had to wait for the opening of two bridges upstream. While the locks run 24/7 for commercial traffic, there are typically only one or two lockings a day for recreational boats, and only between 0900 and 1700. It was another short day, only 42 miles. We anchored in a bay between Île Saint-Régis issue 62 2020
Sunset at Gros Cacouna, one day downriver from Quebec.
The 90-foot-high lock gate at Lock 4 in the Welland Canal.
and the town of the same name. The next day we transited the two American locks, Snell and Eisenhower, followed by the last lock in the river, Iroquois, used only to take care of the rise and fall in the lake level from year to year, which can range three feet above or below datum. Fortunately, in 2018, the lakes were up two or three feet. Upstream of the Iroquois Lock, the Thousand Islands are world-renowned for their beauty and for their varied architecture, ranging from large castles to small A-frames. We anchored at the north end of Grenadier Island, having covered 63 miles and three locks in ten hours. The next morning brought light fog, which soon lifted as we passed through the heart of the Thousand Islands region and then out into Lake Ontario in the late afternoon. Night passages with a lot of big ships around can be difficult, but the lakers all keep to their marked routes. We rode the “sidewalk,” a mile to the right of the big-ship highway, and watched them go by on radar, AIS, and visually. With five aboard, Dee and Jim don’t stand watch. The watchkeepers stand three on and six off, so we all arrived rested for the Welland Canal. 100
The Welland takes vessels around Niagara Falls, rising 326 feet in eight locks. Locks 4, 5, and 6 are a stairstep, with the upper gate of Lock 4 being the lower gate of Lock 5, and so forth. Except for Locks 4 and 5, all of the locks in the Seaway get their water from the top of the lock, 45 feet (or less) up. That’s not too bad, but Lock 4 is filled from the top of the stairstep, about 135 feet up, so the water comes in with much greater force than in the others. This makes for exciting times. On Fintry, we have large docking winches (obsolete top-cleat sailing winches) at the stern and amidships. We carry two heavy blocks to run the lines, which come down from the top of the lock, from the bow and the stern to the winches. With the lock empty, a torrent rushes in and pushes the boat violently away from the wall. At the beginning, when you need it the most, the sideways pull from the lines is limited by the steep angle to the top of the wall. We had boats tied outside of us and had to limit our movement by using the bow thruster and pushing the rudder hard over, forward and back. There is no place to anchor or tie up in the Welland, so it’s an all-day affair. It took us about 12 hours. We tied up in heavy rain at the marina in Port Colborne, near the east end of Lake Erie. After a good night’s sleep, Chuck, Carl, Debbie, and Kathy took a cab to the border, leaving Larry and us for the next leg of the trip. It’s 190 miles from Port Colborne to the mouth of the Detroit River. We again rode the sidewalk and watched the big guys go by to our left. We arrived at the entrance to the Detroit River at 0900 on June 20. Lake Huron is 74 miles from and 18 feet above Lake Erie via the Detroit River, Lake St. Clair, and the St. Clair River. There’s a one-knot current. The shoreline on both sides of the rivers includes wilderness marshes, big cities, heavy industry, and residences of all sizes. Parts of the passage are two-way channels, where half a dozen lakers came by us. Other parts are divided, typically by long, dredge-created islets that are heavily wooded. We planned to stop at a marina recommended by the Great Lakes Cruising Club (GLCC) at the north end of the St. Clair River, but when we called for reservations, we were told that
The former laker Valley Camp towers over the George Kemp Marina at Sault Ste. Marie. At 550 x 58 feet, she is much smaller than most lakers we saw. Fintry is dressed for the Fourth of July.
Flowers in front, two tubs of tomatoes in back, and lettuce scattered in several pots. Yum, yum!
“Night passages with a lot of big ships around can be difficult, but the lakers all keep to their marked routes. We rode the ‘sidewalk,’ a mile to the right of the big-ship highway.
they no longer took transients. They recommended a second marina, which looked shallow despite the lake being two feet above datum. When Jim called, he was very clear that we drew eight feet: “No problem, we get boats your size all the time,” we were told. “But we draw much more than most boats our size.” “No problem!” We approached very slowly. The depth sounder is aft and was reading one foot under the keel when we felt the bow go aground, dead center between two channel markers. Jim telephoned to cancel our reservation: “But that cannot be, there is plenty of water there.” There wasn’t. We backed off without incident and turned around to regroup. We decided that we were all in good shape for the 205 miles to the entrance to the St. Mary’s River at the north end of Lake Huron. Dee says that that night was one of the most beautiful since we sailed in the South Pacific—the Milky Way and many, many bright stars gleamed overhead while we watched the lakers go by to the left of our track. We found a nice anchorage between Janden and Pirate islands, just south of St. Joseph Island. Like the Detroit River, the St. Mary’s River is a combination of two-way and divided channels. We made our way upriver to the George Kemp Marina, on the American side of Sault St. Marie, and checked in with U.S. customs and immigration. Dee’s sister and brotherin-law, Nancy and Preston Athey, joined us there. We spent a day restocking the larder and sightseeing.
We left on June 24, crossing the river to go through the Canadian lock. While the immense American locks (the largest is 1,200 x 110 feet) are nominally open to recreational vessels, we were encouraged to use the much smaller Canadian lock (253 x 51 feet). Lake Superior is 24 feet above Lake Huron. Most of that is at the Soo Falls, which the locks bypass. After leaving the river, we headed west along the south shore of Lake Superior to Grand Marais, Michigan, a landlocked harbor with a narrow entrance. Leaving early in the morning the next day, we made the 130-mile passage to Isle Royale National Park. Despite being 10 miles from Ontario and 12 miles from Minnesota, it is part of Michigan, 36 miles away. Isle Royale is a very special place. It is a 43-mile-long, eight-mile-wide wilderness. Boats are permitted to anchor in its many good harbors, but there are limits on generator use and what you can take and do ashore. Each night, we were alone in our anchorage. We saw bald eagles, a moose feeding on lake grass in water up to her chest, and many beaver-cut trees. We saw many stars and not many people. Three days was too short, but we had to move on. We transited the Keweenaw Waterway through the middle of the peninsula of the same name, the north end of which is guarded by two jetties on either side of a 400-foot opening. We hung out in the lake until a squall line with very rough conditions went by. Having good radar and chart plotter is a real blessing when issue 62 2020
Above: Mackinac Bridge—a brief stay in the fifth Great Lake. Right top: The former railroad, now road-only, bridge at Little Current, Ontario—the only road access to Manitoulin Island.
visibility goes to zero in torrential rain and squally wind.
A rail fan’s delight—normally this is a one-way route, but fires in the north forced all transcontinental traffic from Ontario over the bridge at Parry Sound.
We let Nancy and Preston off at Hancock, Michigan, where we toured the copper mine. Copper has been mined in the area for at least 5,000 years. The Quincy Mine goes down 9,260 feet, along a shaft inclined at 55 degrees. The tour takes you down to the seventh level, the lowest point that isn’t flooded. It’s fascinating, chilly, and somewhat ominous. We continued down the waterway the next day and tied up at the laker-sized wharf at the south end, where we saw a pair of pelicans. The following day, we made the 105-mile passage back to Grand Marais. That night, in 25-knot winds, we dragged anchor, the only such experience we have had in 20,000 miles on Fintry. Since she has a 500-pound anchor and ⅝-inch studlink chain and we had 200 feet of chain out in 40 feet of water, we could only conclude that the bottom was a granite slab with little to hold the anchor. No harm done. The next day, July 2, we returned to the George Kemp Marina and dressed ship in preparation for Independence Day. Sara Durand, Debbie’s daughter, joined us there. We toured the retired laker museum ship Valley Camp, which towers over the marina and has two decks full of displays and artifacts. We went ashore to watch the local 4th of July parade, then back aboard Fintry to our front row seats for the fireworks over the river. On July 5, we returned to Lake Huron, first going west to St. Ignace in the shadow of the north end of the Mackinac Bridge. Since Fintry is too large for the facilities at Mackinac Island, we visited there by ferry. The island is a tourist magnet, and it seems that every other store in the small downtown is a chocolatier. Except for the fire department, one police vehicle, and snowmobiles, no motorized vehicles are allowed on the island. Horse-drawn wagons and bicycles are everywhere. It’s really strange to see a UPS delivery person riding a horse-drawn wagon, with packages piled high. 102
From St. Ignace we briefly headed west under the Mackinac Bridge by 100 yards or so, so we could say that we had visited all five Great Lakes. We then headed for the North Channel, the much-praised cruising ground along the northeast shore of Lake Huron. Our first, brief stop was at Meldrum Bay on Manitoulin Island to check into Canada by telephone. Manitoulin is the largest freshwater island in the world, and one of three islands that divides the North Channel from the main part of Lake Huron. After spending the night at Croker Island and passing under the bridge at Little Current (which can have much current), we joined the GLCC Wilderness Rally at Keyhole Island in the northwest corner of Georgian Bay—the other, much larger, cruising ground east of the main part of Lake Huron. We had joined the GLCC primarily to get access to their exhaustive harbor reports—eight megabytes of text and 4,500 photos and chartlets. The Wilderness Rally was a great bonus. The 30-some boats there welcomed us with open arms. We hosted morning coffee each day on Fintry and met wonderful people. After four days of the rally, we returned to Little Current to fill the larder and to let Sara catch a bus to the Sudbury, Ontario, airport. We headed back into the North Channel and spent three nights in Clapperton Harbour, a well-protected anchorage with a derelict inn. Dee had bought a fishing license at Little Current, but had no luck in several tries. We moved six
We gradually made our way southeast to Parry Sound, stopping for a day or two in various anchorages recommended by the GLCC. We ended our wandering at the Parry Sound home of Bobby Orr, which has the longest rail trestle east of the Rockies, a boon for the rail fans aboard. Our son, Jon, his wife, Bobbi, almost eight-year-old daughter, Joey, and friend, Zeph, joined us in Parry Sound. We spent their first night in Depot Harbour, a hole-in-thewall with several houses but no people in evidence. All went swimming, and we were surprised by a visit from new friends Bob and Drene Corrigan. Bob is the Parry Sound harbormaster, and they spend summers aboard their tug at the town dock. On August 3, we started the long trip home, out into Lake Huron and down to the south end of the Detroit River, where we anchored south of Bois Blanc Island. We then crossed Lake Erie and entered the Welland Canal. The lockmaster decided to treat us as a “light tug”—a tug without anything in tow—so we could go right through. Going down, we just hung out in the middle of each lock without tying up, easy to do because the water flow tends to center the boat and, once down a few feet, you’re out of the wind. As a result, we were through the canal in eight hours. Once in Lake Ontario, we went west to Port Dalhousie, where we experienced another “squall line and piers” moment and had to wait in the lake for an hour until things calmed down. We found a spot to tie up and went ashore for a farewell dinner with our kids. The kids left the next day and Will and Juliana Anderson arrived with their friend, Pam Smith. We set out across Lake Ontario, stopping the next morning at Sceptre Island, summer home of our old friends, Kirby and Kaye Vosburgh, who toured us around interesting places in the Thousand Islands and treated us to dinner at their cabin. The next day, we crossed the river and checked into the U.S. to take on 1,000 gallons of fuel—much lower taxes than in Canada—then checked back into Canada by telephone at Brockville and anchored at Galop Island, just upriver of the Iroquois Lock. We made it rapidly through the first three locks and anchored in Lake St. Francis, just upriver of the Valleyfield and Saint-Louis bridges. After passing through the bridges early in the morning, we waited until noon to enter the first of the Beauharnois Locks with 40 other recreational boats. After exiting the lower lock, we moved right along to the Ste. Catherine Lock, which opened promptly. The last lock,
Saint-Lambert, was another story. Each time we thought we might get in, a laker appeared from one side or the other, but we finally got through at 2200. The next day, the Andersons took us grocery shopping in Montreal—both are good cooks and they wanted to provide the meals while going downriver. Chris Hennessy, Larry’s son, joined us as well. Downstream of Montreal, we sped along with the current, seeing 13 knots SOG at one point. We anchored out in the islands at the south end of Lac St. Pierre, then locked into the marina at Quebec again. We found that, despite warnings in the Sailing Directions, recreational boats are welcome to anchor at Gros Cacouna. We crossed the St. Lawrence to enter the Saguenay River, home to many marine mammals, where we saw a variety of whales, including six belugas. Finishing out the trip, we again went west of Prince Edward Island because of the wind forecast. Our guests had never seen Baddeck, and we took them there through St. Peters Lock. In Lunenburg, we let our guests off. We concluded the trip with Larry, making an uneventful passage to Boston, arriving in the afternoon of August 27. Photo by Bob Rosbe (BOS/BUZ).
miles south to Kagawong, on Manitoulin Island, and walked inland to Bridal Veil Falls—among the smaller of the 40 or so falls of that name around the world, it is around 35 feet tall and 30 feet wide. On a hot day, it was a good place to be. That Sunday was the Blessing of the Fleet at St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church. The church’s pulpit is the bow of a small boat and the church displays many nautical items.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS Dee began sailing when she was young and sailed for Brown University. She and her stepfather, John Marshall, taught Jim to sail after they were married, 54 years ago. Dee and Jim have owned a 30-foot Crocker Amantha class cutter, Clytie, a 40-foot gaff schooner, and the Swan 57, Sweetwater, on which they sailed around the world. Jim raced for 25 years on other people’s boats, including a first-in-class at Antigua Sailing Week, three firsts-in-class at the PHRF New Englands, and a trip to the Lloyd Phoenix Cup competition at Annapolis in 2001. They bought the ex-Royal Navy Fleet tender Fintry in 2002, brought her across the Atlantic in 2005, and have lived aboard her in Boston since 2013. Now retired, Jim spent his career in Boston area high-tech startups. Dee works as a parish priest in the Episcopal Church. issue 62 2020
Oriental, North Carolina: Shrimp boats about to drag down on Endurance in gale-force winds.
by Ron Schaper, Florida Station
Photos by Andrea Dowling
es, we were bad snowbirds. We left south Florida on Endurance, our Sabre 402, way too late to avoid the stifling, oppressive heat of the south. We had planned to head north in May, after I retired, so we could be on the south shore of Long Island to celebrate my momâ€™s 96th birthday in early July. But preparations kept us in Florida until early June.
under the Yanmar! One of the four screws securing the seawater pump cover plate had broken, and seawater was squirting all over the engine and alternator. I shouted to Andrea to shut the engine down. It was time to jury-rig. With a bit of plastic and needle-nose vice grips, I clamped the corner of the cover plate. We fired up the engine. Not a drip!
I had traversed the length of the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW), between New York and Florida, many years back, once in a 1920s Crosby catboat, and again on a 1960s-vintage wooden Matthews motor yacht. I had run the section between Morehead City and Norfolk a number of times in a 72-foot ketch I skippered, each time with sporty conditions off Cape Hatteras. Andrea had never traveled this route. On this trip, we expected to anchor in natural settings, enjoying the beauty of the coast.
That afternoon, as we neared the Riviera Beach Marina inside Lake Worth Inlet, purple-black clouds streaked with lightning rolled in from the west. Docking in a tight marina in whiteout rain and 40-plus-knot winds would not be a good end to our first day. We aborted our approach until the squall passed. Once we were secured and had turned on our lifesaving air conditioning, I dug out my spare water pump. This was the only engine-related problem we had during our entire five-month trip.
We sailed out of our local inlet, Hillsboro, just north of Fort Lauderdale, in a light southeasterly, which had us motor-sailing uneventfully in the Gulf Streamâ€”until a routine engine check revealed several inches of water sloshing around
Unfavorable offshore weather reports, limited options for deep-water inlets, and daily late-afternoon thunderstorms were a concern to be sure. But, in the end, it was the heat that forced us to change our plans, heading nightly into marinas for our
shore-power-only air conditioning. Yes, folks, we became ICW ditch crawlers. You didn’t know that CCA also stands for Canal Crawlers of America, did you? It was so hot that, in spite of the shade provided by our dodger and bimini, we had to spray ourselves down regularly with the cockpit shower. Underway, Andrea carried her little four-D-cell-powered fan while reading stories of happy snowbirds traveling in March, anchoring in 60–70-degree temperatures. We had weather-radio reports of heat indices up to 110 degrees for two weeks! Using 6.6 knots as an average speed, we’d check the charts and guidebooks each morning to figure out where we would find our AC for the night. On some days, the storms didn’t develop. On others, we were caught in blinding rain and 40-knot winds and had to rely on the zoomed-in GPS to hold in the narrow channel. Radar in those conditions was a mass of rain clutter. There was no sea room to simply run off. Most edges of the ICW are unforgiving to a 5.5-foot draft. It wasn’t all heat, storms, and shallows. We saw more dolphins than we see in the ocean, despite the murky waters. They would roll on the surface and turn sideways to look at us, as the muddy or tannin-stained water had near-zero visibility. We joked that these dolphins would need sunglasses if they swam in our clear south Florida waters! Winding through the coastal marshes, we found a birdwatchers’ paradise: roseate spoonbills, herons, egrets, and eagles. As we passed through, young ospreys in crowded nests begged for fish from mom and dad. The meandering Georgia wetlands have huge tides and currents to match. Late one slightly less stifling afternoon, we found ourselves far from any marinas, so we decided to anchor for the night. We found a deep channel, well away from the nighttime
tug and barge traffic, and set the anchor in 12 feet of water on a muddy bottom. Although we were secure, the 3.5-knot current set up a humming vibration in the anchor chain that didn’t allow much sleep. In the morning, as we readied to up anchor, we found that the extremities of the boat were covered with thousands of little (fortunately nonbiting) flies. Any area of the boat that came to a point—the bow pulpit, the end of the boom, and the edges of the transom—was completely covered with flies! Sections of the ICW have only three feet of water at low tide. With our 5.5-foot draft, the infamous Hell Gate in Georgia must be timed to traverse at high water. Comparing charts, guidebooks, and updates on social media such as Active Captain are helpful, but when the depth sounder numbers are dropping, and you can “feel” the bottom as you search side to side in the marked channel for deeper water, you long to be offshore. Finally, we reached the deep, open waters of Chesapeake Bay. In lovely Reedville, Virginia, I hailed a late-afternoon crabber heading home and bought a bucket of crabs for a few dollars and a cold beer. We soon had them steamed up and were enjoying fresh local seafood at its finest. This was the type of cruising we had envisioned—anchored in a lovely, quiet spot and eating crabs in the cockpit with a cold bottle of wine. The Chesapeake is noted for its oysters, crabs—and flies! As we sailed up the bay, we were inundated with biting black flies. We armed ourselves with flyswatters, and the body count grew to the hundreds. When a few dozen were dead on the cockpit floor, we swept them down the scuppers, now named the “fly holes.” But this was nothing! The day we traveled down Delaware Bay, the black flies were joined by larger, nastier green flies! Late in the afternoon, we found an anchorage at the mouth
A Reedville menhaden boat. issue 62 2020
of the Cohansey River in New Jersey. The green flies were swarming around us. On the bow, I swung a flyswatter around my head to keep the flies off as I tried to set the anchor in a two-to-three-knot current. Andrea was doing the same back at the helm. It was like a horror movie. At first light, when I slid open the screened companionway hatch, I saw that they were still there! Nearly every inch of the underside of the dodger and bimini was covered with green flies. We sped away to the Delaware Bay shipping channel, battling flies en route. The death toll was easily over a thousand. Later, when I washed the boat down in Cape May, an island of floating fly carcasses washed out the fly holes.
Most afternoons were swept with nasty thunderstorms.
Our old cruising ground, the south shore of Long Island, has always been shallow, but it was deeper years ago when I sailed this area in my old centerboard Bristol 40, with a 4.5-foot draft. Before venturing into the Fire Island Inlet, I contacted my old friend, Jimmie Reynolds, who operates the local Sea Tow operation and knows the conditions intimately. He concluded that, if I followed his directions exactly, I should be able to carry six feet coming though the inlet. What about swells? Yeah, less in the bottom of swells. The bottom is hard, unforgiving sand. This didn’t sound like a good plan. Instead, we chose to enter through Jones Inlet, several miles to the west. This inlet carried nine feet of water. Once inside, the State Boat Channel connected us to the Great South Bay, and we were soon in my old hometown of Babylon. My former neighbor and schoolmate, Ralph Scordino, has been mayor of Babylon for a good number of years. He set us up on the guest slip at the end of the Babylon Town Dock. We had to plow through soft mud to get to the dock, and we were aground at low tide, but hey, it had power and water, it was cheap, and we were near family and friends. We had a wonderful time for six weeks in and around Babylon. Then, early one morning, we departed the shallow 106
Covered in flies as we departed our marsh anchorage.
Great South Bay and headed for Block Island. At one point that day, Andrea noticed a big upwelling of water close on the port side of the boat and called to me. We saw a huge swirl in our wake, and a 35-foot whale breached and rolled on its side, seemed to look at us, then angrily slapped his giant tail on the water and dove with a spout of spray. I’m sure we didn’t hit him, but it was close, and he didn’t seem happy to be disturbed. More excitement followed later that afternoon. Threatening weather alerts were followed by building black clouds, thunder, and lightning. We rolled up the jib and double-reefed the main, then donned our foul-weather gear. While the worst of the storms missed us, we had plenty of heavy rain and wind, greatly reducing visibility. The situation was made worse when the radar stopped working as we approached Montauk. With Montauk light abeam, we set a course for Block Island, somewhere out there in the storm and gloom. Andrea reminded me about the new large wind turbines she had seen from Montauk the previous year. She recalled that there were a number of them between Montauk and Block Island, perhaps right in our path. They did appear later, a bit to the east, red lights flashing on all five towers. While we had both sailed into Block Island’s Great Salt Pond before, it was years ago and always during daylight. Now we were approaching in the dark, with many background lights and in stormy conditions. With an abundance of caution, we slowly closed with the harbor’s rock jetty. Andrea scanned the water with the spotlight, picking out unlighted buoys, as I followed the zoomed-in GPS from the helm. I was prepared to turn around and heave-to offshore overnight, but with each buoy appearing where we expected it to be, we continued in, shouting out marks over the shrieking wind and clattering halyards. We stopped rolling as we slowly reached the protected water of the narrow channel. Unfortunately, once inside the large, deep harbor, the fetch caused by the 30-knot winds had us rocking once again.
The fun continued as we dodged boats in the crowded anchorage while searching for an available mooring in the dark and rain. Picking up a mooring entails approaching it upwind, then stopping and holding the bow until the bow-man (me) grabs the slimy pennant in the water with the boathook and secures it by reeving heavy dock lines through the eye splice. When we found a mooring using the spotlight, Andrea approached it, but as soon as I put the spotlight down, it could no longer be seen, as the wind pushed the bow downwind. After a couple of attempts, we considered anchoring, but in over 40 feet of water, with lots of boats around, it was not a good option.
Block Island North Light.
We finally found a mooring with an attached toggle and fiberglass pole, which made it easier to pick up. On the second attempt, with a number of shouted suggestions fore and aft, I finally grabbed the toggle pole, pulled it in to the soggy eye splice and quickly make it fast to the cleat, just as another gust tried to tear us away from it. Once secured, we both heaved sighs of relief. I looked at my watch. It was 1:20 a.m. These 20-hour days were not something we cared to repeat. Flying the CCA burgee, we found, opened many doors. In the morning, we dinghied over to the lovely motor yacht Lilly, laying on one of the two CCA moorings. Paul and Carol Connor (ESS) welcomed us to raft up alongside, which we soon did. (What a relief to have experienced professional sailors take our lines as we pulled alongside. We have had too many “dock
After a few pleasant days in Block Island, we were off to Cuttyhunk, catching a huge bluefish en route.
boys” at marinas vigorously haul on the bow line during our approach to a dock, throwing the planned docking strategy askew). Paul, Carol, and their active family were busy taking advantage of all Block Island has to offer. They gladly shared their local knowledge with us. On the other CCA mooring was Tattler, with Frank and Elisabeth Bohlen (ESS), of Newport Bermuda Race meteorology fame, onboard.
Nice bluefish, caught while sailing from Block Island to Cuttyhunk.
After a few pleasant days in Block Island, we were off to Cuttyhunk, catching a huge bluefish en route. We spent some time in Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard, but with Labor Day weekend and a northeast blow approaching, we headed for the sheltered lagoon at Vineyard Haven. We found a great spot close to town, near a fish market, to secure the dinghy for our Vineyard Haven jaunts. The Martha’s Vineyard bus system is a great way to see the island.
issue 62 2020
Nothing says New York like the Statue of Liberty and the Staten Island Ferry.
The weather blew through, and we headed back to Block Island. We found Mark Lenci (BOS/GMP) on Sunflower on a CCA mooring. He invited us to raft, but warned he was having a boisterous bachelor party aboard and it may be noisy! Soon, Jack (FLA) and Glory Wills returned to Jet Stream on the other CCA mooring and invited us alongside. We all loved the idea of two Florida Station members being rafted up in Block Island!
Seawanhaka Yacht Club, a classic steeped in tradition.
mooring and a warm welcome. Local CCA shipmate Rex Herbert (NYS) came aboard for a dark and stormy and Block Island clams. We chose to hold at a mooring in Port Washington, New York, for ten days while hurricane Florence made its way through the Carolinas. We also learned that the East River was to be closed for about a week for the United Nations General Assembly. Finally departing New York, we made our way to Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey, where we marveled at the beautiful view of the New York City skyline from our cockpit. Along the New Jersey coast, we hunkered down in Cape May while a nasty weather system with 50-knot winds passed through. We avoided Cohansey (and the flies) this time, as we made our way up a foggy Delaware Bay. The Chesapeake, south of the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal, was heavily littered with debris from hurricane Florence. Huge, barely floating tree trunks, some three feet in diameter and 20 feet long, mixed with mats of branches and weeds, required intense attention at the helm. On the Eastern Shore, we thoroughly enjoyed St. Michaels, Maryland, and the spectacular 18-acre Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum.
Jack, of course, commented: “Isn’t this the greatest club?” We agreed that by sharing a mooring, you really get to know other cruisers. While we left Block Island reluctantly, it was time to start our journey back south. We headed for Shelter Island. We found in the 2018 Yearbook that my old shipmate from the Stad Amsterdam, Charlie Weiner (NYS), was steward of a mooring at the Shelter Island Yacht Club. Though I hadn’t talked to him in years, a short phone call and email had us set up on a guest mooring. From there, after an early start into a foul tide at Plum Gut, we fetched the anchorage in Port Jefferson, New York, guided by my brother-in-law, Sea Tow captain Gary Nilsen. Bob DeNatale (NYS), mooring steward at Oyster Bay’s prestigious Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club, provided a 108
Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Maryland.
“ These massive monsters lay to windward of us in Oriental, North Carolina.
We continued south along the ICW. As we approached Oriental, North Carolina, a community only just recovering from a direct hit and extreme flooding from hurricane Florence, we were monitoring Category 4 Hurricane Michael as it roared ashore in the Florida Panhandle. At the Oriental Marina, we snugged into a slip between six stout pilings, in a narrow channel protected on all sides except for the channel entrance to the west. Behind our boat, to the north and west, were commercial shrimp-packing houses with a dozen or so sturdy 70- to 100foot shrimpers, rafted three and four abreast, waiting out the storm. Perhaps because the channel to the packing house docks was so narrow, or maybe because they always off-loaded from their port side, all the shrimp boats were secured bow-in
The westerly put us directly downwind from heavy-tonnage shrimp boats with massive windage in their rigs.
with their sterns facing west, the only direction exposed to a half-mile fetch of open water. We made our usual storm preparations, removing canvas, tripling dock lines, securing all fenders, and stowing the dinghy ashore. The dockmaster said that in a blow, we should expect extra-low tide, as the water gets blown out of the Neuse River. Fortunately, the bottom is very soft mud, because in our slip we had only a foot or so beneath the wing keel as the storm dropped the water level down a good three feet. Endurance simply nestled into the mud, greatly reducing the heel to the winds and relaxing the strain to the dock lines, which I eased off as the boat lowered.
Sunset behind the shrimp fleet in Oriental, North Carolina. issue 62 2020
Cumberland Island, Georgia, home to many wild horses.
Michael was downgraded to a tropical storm before passing over North Carolina. While we avoided a direct hit, at the height of the storm I was in the cockpit watching the winds increase and clock from the south to the west. The westerly put us directly downwind from the heavy-tonnage shrimp boats with massive windage in their rigs. Most of the boats ran generators 24/7 and their decks blazed with bright lights. As the anemometer recorded gusts to 65 knots, the wind shrieked through the rigging and trees were losing branches. Then we heard a sound like a gunshot as the stern line parted on an 85-footer, the second shrimp boat in a raft of three. Together, the huge shrimpers began to pivot on their bow lines, their sterns swinging out and down the channel—toward us!
The wind direction continued to the north as the storm quickly moved off, leaving beautiful weather in its wake— perfect for continuing our now-delayed trip south.
I called out to Andrea down below to grab her valuables and get ready to abandon ship. If those bruisers drifted down on us in a 60-knot wind, our boat would be crushed like an eggshell! So, what did Andrea do? She grabbed her camera and started taking pictures!
Just north of the Florida line is Cumberland Island, the largest of Georgia’s barrier islands, maintained by the National Park Service. We dinghied ashore here to explore the pristine maritime forests, undeveloped beaches, and marshes populated by roaming wild horses.
We watched the boats swinging around 180 degrees when suddenly they halted. A rigging wire on one of their steel booms miraculously snagged on the bow-mounted anchor of the boat to leeward of them and held them there. With no one aboard the moving boats, it seemed like an eternity before crews from surrounding boats showed up to secure additional dock lines. The only apparent damage was a stove-in bulwark and rail on a wooden shrimp boat, where the bow of the steel shrimper impacted him.
After five months and nearly 3,200 miles cruising through 11 states, we returned to our dock in Lighthouse Point, Florida. Considering the ICW’s daily challenges of shallow water, bridge schedules, and finding a place to moor for the night, I find cruising in the Bahamas much more relaxing. The ideal boat for the ICW is not a slow, deep-draft, high-masted sailboat, but a reasonably fast, shoal-draft, low-air-draft powerboat with a generator and air conditioning. Of course, leaving Florida before the heat sets in is always a good idea too. Don’t be a bad snowbird! ✧
As we expected, North Carolina bore the devastating scars and debris of hurricane Florence, which had passed through just a few weeks before. We have all seen the pictures of destroyed boats and docks, flooded homes and downed trees, but seeing it firsthand, mile after mile, is humbling. The tannin-colored water stained hundreds of houses all the way up to the tops of their front doors. Lawns were strewn with soggy discarded furniture, bedding, rugs—everything homes contain. Boats of all sizes were sunk at their docks or scattered ashore, some far back in the marshes and woods.
The ideal boat for the ICW is not a slow, deep-draft, high-masted sailboat, but a reasonably fast, shoal-draft, low-air-draft powerboat with a generator and air conditioning. Of course, leaving Florida before the heat sets in is always a good idea too. Don’t be a bad snowbird!
Endurance at rest.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR AND PHOTOGRAPHER Growing up in a commercial fishing family and spending summers on a small island, Ron Schaper could not help but be a sailor. Years of running and delivering, cruising and racing sailing yachts have provided plenty of experiences to share. Captain Ron holds a 100-ton USCG license. Andrea Dowling is descended from a long line of sailors and traces her Caribbean roots back to the tiny Dutch island of Saba. Based in Barbados, her grandfather traded throughout the Caribbean in his own cargo schooners. Literally sailing since before she was born, Andrea is also passionate about travel and photography. Andrea and Ron currently sail their Sabre 402, Endurance, out of the Fort Lauderdale area, where they also run Captain Ron Yacht Charters. They can be found at CaptainRonYachtCharters.com.
issue 62 2020
A hidden gem in the North Channel—the only boat in this anchorage was mine.
The Long Way Home: Single-Handed on America’s Great Loop by Kevin de Regt
ave you ever woken up in the middle of the night in a dark, unfamiliar hotel room and really had to go to the bathroom? While you might know the general route to the toilet, the trip seems daunting—you’ll almost definitely stub your toe on the way there, and you might even walk into a wall or two. But you’re 99 percent sure you’ll make it eventually, and you’re 100 percent sure you’ll be glad you made the trip.
Modern navigation, with an old-fashioned beard, on the Chicago River.
admission for a year and start school in the fall of 2015 rather than 2014. The school denied my request initially, but then realized about two weeks later that they were over-enrolled and came crawling back to me, and I suddenly had a year off. So I sort of quit my job, and I sort of, you know, BOUGHT A BOAT! The author’s father, John (NYS), joined for the first days on the Hudson River.
That is the exact same feeling I had in July 2014 when I pushed off the dock in Norwalk, Connecticut, and set sail on my newly-acquired Catalina 27, Chiefly Driftin’, to travel America’s Great Loop. Well, I didn’t actually have to go to the bathroom, but aside from that I felt the same—leaving a pretty comfortable situation for a potentially hazardous, but ultimately rewarding one. To give you a bit of a backstory, I grew up in Rowayton, Connecticut, and after graduating from college in 2011, worked for a real estate company in Boston for three years. In the spring of 2014, I applied to a few business schools. I was rejected by all but one “lucky” place: Dartmouth. When I got my acceptance letter, the first thing I did was look around to make sure I wasn’t on a hidden camera prank TV show. The second thing I did was ask if I could defer my
Growing up, my parents owned a sailboat (a Contessa 35), and we would go on a couple of family sailing trips every summer. But—and this is important—if any of you have ever been kids before, you probably know that family trips are about as cool as the chicken pox. So let’s just say I never caught the “sailing bug.” In my mind, sailing meant I was missing out on whatever fun stuff my friends were doing back home, and it was a lot easier for my older brother to beat me up because I was trapped with him in a 35-foot fiberglass case of terror. As I got older, though, I came to enjoy sailing more and more, and appreciate what I had once taken for granted. Then one day, when I was talking to my dad about what I might do with my year off, he suggested the Great Loop. For those who have never heard of it (I certainly hadn’t), the Loop is essentially a circumnavigation of the eastern part of the United States. From Manhattan, the route runs up the Hudson River and across the Erie Canal into the Great Lakes, then from Chicago, Illinois, to Mobile, Alabama, on a series of inland waterways, across the Gulf of Mexico, down around Florida, and back up the East Coast. issue 62 2020
The Trent-Severn has some unique locks, including this railway lock.
After about an hour of research, I was sold. It sounded like the perfect adventure. By the time I finished with my job and moved back to Connecticut, it was May, and I was on a pretty tight schedule. Having done a ton of research (read: very limited research) I knew that I wanted to be through the Great Lakes by the end of September, before the fall weather rolled in. That meant I needed to leave Connecticut sometime in July, which meant I needed to find and buy a boat ASAP. The first five or six that I looked at were total duds, and then finally, THE boat presented itself: a 1987 Catalina 27, with a 14-horsepower inboard diesel engine. She had a few issues that I knew of— depth finder, knot meter, and fuel gauge didn’t work, batteries were almost shot, holding tank had a leak—and plenty more that I would later discover, but was more or less ready to go. There was just one little problem: I had no idea what I was doing. A side effect of not being particularly passionate about sailing during my childhood was that I never really bothered to learn the first thing about boat maintenance, navigation, anchoring, and so forth. That stuff all fell under the jurisdiction of Mom or Dad. I did know the basics of putting up sails and trimming them, but I didn’t know how an engine worked. And so on and so on. After buying the boat in early June, I took a month to get the boat ready, but more importantly, to get myself ready. I picked my dad’s brain, explored Chiefly Driftin’s many nooks and crannies, and convinced my friend Rob to join me for a trial run from Rowayton to Cape Cod for the 4th of July. After getting back from the Cape, I spent one last week getting prepped. On July 19, 2014, I left Norwalk, sailed down the East River, and took a sharp right turn up the Hudson. 114
Passing through Chicago.
The next time I saw the East River was about 6,000 miles and 343 days later, on June 27, 2015. In those intervening 11 months, I spent time in three different countries—Canada, the Bahamas, and the U.S. I sailed on rivers, lakes, bays, sounds, canals, gulfs, oceans, bayous, the ground (whoops), and railroad tracks (yes, seriously). I took my mast down, then put it up, then took it down again, and then put it up again. I swam in fresh water, salt water, and everything in between. And to go back to the hotel room analogy, I stubbed my toe plenty of times along the way. In just the first two months of the trip, my alternator failed and I lost all electronics, my engine overheated because I mistook the smell of leaking coolant for old hot dogs, I had to figure out how to go through locks by myself via trial and error (and error, and error, and
“In just the first two months of the trip, my alternator failed and I lost all electronics, my engine overheated because I mistook the smell of leaking coolant for old hot dogs, I had to figure out how to go through locks by myself via trial and error (and error, and error, and error) …
error), I lost my main halyard at the top of the mast, the tack of my jib ripped out of the headstay, I woke up in the middle of the night with the anchor dragging (more than once), and I got fined by the Coast Guard because I didn’t have enough lifejackets for the seven bikini-clad girls on my boat. (All right, fine, that last one didn’t actually happen). But I did hit a rock. It was mid-to-late August, and I was up in the Georgian Bay, having successfully (with the exception of everything listed in the last paragraph) navigated the Hudson River, the Erie Canal, Lake Ontario, and the Trent-Severn Waterway. The Georgian Bay is a spectacular cruising area, with rocky terrain that reminded me of coastal Maine and reminded the bottom of my boat that rocks are hard. After spending a night in a beautiful, remote anchorage, I was on my way back to the primary “small craft channel,” passing through a narrow cut at about five knots, and then BAM! And then BAM again! The first bam was my keel hitting the rock, and the second was my heart wedging itself firmly into my throat. I jumped into the crystal-clear water to survey the damage and saw a chunk of lead taken out of the keel (which I’d expected), but thought everything else looked OK. I was very relieved. Unfortunately, I was also very wrong. Over the next few weeks, I noticed that my automatic bilge pump had started running more often, which meant that water was sneaking into the boat from somewhere. Procrastinating is generally the only thing I do with any sense of urgency, so I just told myself I’d
Top: A peaceful anchorage in the North Channel. Above: A sunrise in the North Channel.
get the boat hauled out of the water at some point in the future and worry about it then. Three months and thousands of miles later, after passing through the North Channel, Lake Michigan, the Illinois River, the Mississippi River, the Ohio River, the Kentucky lakes and the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, I arrived at Turner Marine in Mobile, Alabama, and decided that time had come. I’d soon be crossing open water on the Gulf of Mexico, and wanted to get any issues sorted out before then. It turned out to be one of the smartest decisions I’ve ever made, ranking right up there with … hmmm … never mind, there’s not too much competition in that category. issue 62 2020
â€œBut in spite of the discomforts and near-disasters
(or maybe because of the discomforts and near-disasters?), it was an experience that surpassed all of my expectations.
Top: Passing the arch in St. Louis. Above and left: Caught in an Arctic freeze on the Mississippi River.
Hoppie’s Marina on the Mississippi River.
Keel repairs in Mobile.
“The wind was strong enough that I had my sails down and engine fully throttled, and still couldn’t point the boat into the wind. … [T]here was a reef about a half-mile away that I was being blown directly toward.
When the boys in the boatyard hauled her out, one of them walked over and put pressure on the side of the keel with his foot. It started to rock back and forth, and that is a type of “swing keel” that no boat is supposed to have. The keel bolts were fine, but the fiberglass that runs along the base of the keel had been totally compromised. The first question they asked me was, “Do you have insurance?” As it turns out, if my answer had been no, the whole trip probably would have been done right then and there. The fiberglass repair was very extensive and very expensive. In fact, the insurance agent almost considered the boat totaled. I spent the month of January living in Mobile, on a boat that was sitting out of the water on stilts. For about two of those weeks, almost the entire cabin was quarantined with plastic sheeting to prevent the spread of fiberglass dust, and I lived on my six-foot-by-sixfoot v-shaped bed in the front of the boat, climbing in and out of an overhead hatch. By the end of it, I wasn’t sure if the plastic sheeting was protecting my man cave from fiberglass dust, or if it was protecting the fiberglass dust from the smell of my man cave. The keel did eventually get fixed, and on February 1, I was moving again.
particularly big issue in this case, because there was a reef about a half-mile away that I was being blown directly toward. The only other boat I could see was the American Spirit, which just so happened to be a 1,000-foot-long freighter that didn’t appear to be having any trouble with the weather at all.
Beyond that snafu, the scariest part of the trip was weatherrelated. Just east of Mackinac Island, on Lake Huron, I got caught in a nasty thunderstorm with gusts up to 60 miles per hour. The wind was strong enough that I had my sails down and engine fully throttled, and still couldn’t point the boat into the wind. Yes, that’s right, I couldn’t even pass wind—which was a
But in spite of the discomforts and near-disasters (or maybe because of the discomforts and near-disasters?), it was an experience that surpassed all of my expectations. It also surpassed all of my family’s expectations—literally. They admitted after the trip that they put together a secret betting pool about how far I’d actually get. Thanks for believing in me, guys.
As I sat out there struggling to hold my own versus the wind and the quickly mounting seas, I remember jealously glaring over at the Spirit and wondering if the captain, sitting in his warm cabin, had even noticed it was raining. And it turns out that he might not have been paying as much attention as he should have been! The following weekend, having survived the storm, found an anchorage, and taken a couple of days to lick my wounds, I was listening to local radio when the DJ mentioned something about a freighter that had been pushed aground by the wind in a recent storm near Mackinac Island. Upon further investigation, my sources (Google) informed me that it was none other than the American Spirit. The article I found even said that “there were no reports of any other vessels having trouble related to the storm.” Right. Clearly they hadn’t been reading my blog.
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The author’s uncle, following a final supply run before crossing the Gulf of Mexico.
Feeding Cheetos to wild pigs in the Bahamas.
“If you can successfully weather that squall today,
successfully find that anchorage tonight, and successfully fire up your engine tomorrow, you’ll eventually get where you want to go.
I had quite a few visitors along the way (including friends, family, and a stray cat that jumped aboard and scared the crap out of me one night), but I did about 80 percent of the Loop by myself. And I think I managed to maintain about 80 percent of my social skills, without turning into TOO much of a weirdo. I learned enough about that whole boating thing to consider myself—knock on wood—a competent sailor, and even made it across the Gulf Stream and back, cruising around the Bahamas for a month. I would even go so far as to say I matured a lot— if not for the fact that the highlight of that Bahamas trip was feeding Cheetos to wild pigs on the beach. Above all else, the people I met are probably what I’ll carry with me the most. It wasn’t just meeting other Loopers—who were generally some of the most friendly and helpful people I’ve come across anywhere, and who, with a couple of notable exceptions, were generally retired couples in their 50s or 60s. It was walking into a random town, finding a bar, and striking up a conversation with whoever the hell was sitting on the next barstool over. Many people think of “traveling” as visiting as many foreign countries as possible, but I think there’s also something to be said for exploring your own country, and talking to some of the characters who fill it up. But the single best part about spending so much time by myself? I can completely fabricate stories about storms and rocks to make for an interesting magazine article! 118
Just kidding. It’s all true, I promise. When the original version of this story was published in WindCheck magazine in May 2015, it ended right about there. I finished it by saying that I was looking forward to my next adventure, and excited to start graduate school in the fall. Now, four-and-a-half years have passed, and a lot has changed! I have one less boat than I had in 2015. I have one more graduate degree than I had in 2015. I have one more job than I had in 2015. And I even have (drumroll please) one more fiancée than I had in 2015! I now live in San Francisco. My home no longer floats or moves, and I start my days by firing up the computer on my desk rather than firing up the engine on my boat. And, as I look back on that year I spent on the Great Loop, I find that my perspective has changed as well. For example, a few paragraphs ago, you just heard me say that, more than anything else, I’d remember the people that I met. And I really did feel that way in 2015! But I’m not so sure that I do anymore. The truth is that I rarely think about most of those people. And I don’t mean for that to sound harsh—when I do think about them, I remember them clearly, and in fact I have a smile on my face as I write this, thinking about the encounters we shared. But there just aren’t many moments in my life that prompt me to think about them.
If you ask me today, I’ll tell you that above all else, there are two things I carry with me from my year afloat. The first is the value of sharing good times with the people you love. When people find out that I spent a year on a sailboat, mostly by myself, the most common question they ask is, “Did you get lonely?” And the answer is yes—but not in the way you might expect. I wasn’t lonely when I got caught in that storm on Lake Huron, or when I hit that rock in the Georgian Bay. In fact, in some ways, it was nice to be by myself in those tight situations. There wasn’t any negotiation about how to respond to the problem, there weren’t any emotions to manage (other than my own!), and I didn’t feel any pressure to make a decision right away so that it looked like I knew what I was doing. Would it have been nice to have a second opinion at times, or some additional expertise? Sure! But for the most part, I just made the best decision I could and kept moving forward. The lows were never that low when I was by myself. But the highs also weren’t that high. As odd as it sounds, I felt most lonely during the best times. To this day, I still have a vivid memory of sailing up the Savannah River. The sun had just set, and the sky was dark orange. In the distance, I noticed the silhouette of a deer running along the top of the riverbank to my right. I couldn’t actually see the deer, only its outline against the blazing orange sky. I had never seen anything quite like it before. Then, at that exact moment, I started to hear splashing and breathing all around me—it turned out a group of dolphins had decided to escort me into Savannah. The whole thing was like a scene out of the Lion King. It was amazing, and I tried my best to soak it in, but all I really wanted was somebody to share it with. So, these days, when times are good—whether it’s a great dinner, or a spectacular sunset—I always try to remind myself that it’s not really the delicious food or the beautiful scenery that’s making me so happy. It’s the fact that I can share those moments with people I love. The second thing I carry with me is an appreciation for the power of small achievements. I had a football coach in high school who always told us, “Take care of the little things and let the big things take care of themselves.” While that always struck me as good advice in the abstract, it became a way of life on the Loop. When I pushed off from the dock in Norwalk on that sunny morning in 2014, the idea of sailing back into Norwalk a year (and 6,000 miles, and two Gulf Stream crossings) later was very daunting. But you know what wasn’t daunting? Making it out of the Cove Marina channel and into Long Island Sound. And then making it to City Island that night. And then making it to Nyack the next night (OK fine, riding the currents and
dodging the ferries on the East River was somewhat daunting). These days, I’m at a really exciting point in my career. I work on the product development team at a software startup, and I’m leading an ambitious (and sometimes daunting) new product launch. When I think about all of the problems we have to solve over the next month, and three months, and three years, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. So, I try not to! It’s obviously important to make sure you’re working toward the right goal— just like it’s important to make sure your compass is pointing you in the right direction. And it’s obviously important to make sure you’re positioned to solve those future problems—just like it’s important to get your leaky keel checked before you cross the Gulf of Mexico. But whenever I start to feel overwhelmed by tomorrow’s problems, I remind myself to focus on today’s. If you can successfully weather that squall today, successfully find that anchorage tonight, and successfully fire up your engine tomorrow, you’ll eventually get where you want to go. And most importantly, if you remember to appreciate the cumulative power of those small achievements in the moment, you’ll give yourself a very good chance to enjoy the ride. An earlier version of this article was published in WindCheck magazine, May 2015.
About the Author Kevin de Regt lives in San Francisco with his fiancée, Libby, and works at a real estate technology startup called Juniper Square. His adventures on the Great Loop were chronicled at thederegtory.wordpress.com. Since selling his boat in 2015, Kevin hasn’t been able to get out on the water as much as he used to, but he does still try to join his parents, John and Joan de Regt (NYS), on their Cambria 46, Starlight, for some cruising each summer. It’s only a matter of time before he has another boat of his own ....
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Finding a way through heavy ice in the Central Arctic Ocean. Photo by Conor McDonnell.
An Expedition Vessel Comes into Her Own
by Erik de Jong, Bras d’Or Station
AST SPRING, BAGHEERA CELEBRATED HER tenth birthday. Over the past decade, she has carried us over 75,000 miles in Arctic and subarctic waters. This is the story of how Bagheera came to be and a reflection on her design.
that moment, I decided to become a yacht designer so I could save on design costs. Luckily, my 12-year-old self did not know about building or maintenance costs. This blissful lack of knowledge helped keep the dream alive while I read through all the books I could find on boat building and design.
I was born in the Netherlands and raised by parents who love to sail. When I was ten, we started sailing in the high latitudes during family vacations. It was during these voyages that I started thinking about a life at sea, exploring the most remote corners of the world.
By the time I was 16, I had designed Bagheera, a 52-foot expedition sailing vessel. It wasn’t until a year later that I could attend university and start a professional education as a naval architect. The design got tweaked in between my university lectures, and by the end of the three-and-a-half-year program, the Bagheera design became my graduation project. Around this time, I finally found the courage to show my father the drawings and ask for his professional opinion. He studied the drawings for a long time without saying a word, and after what felt like an eternity, he asked one simple question: When will we start building? I stuttered a bit about finances, being a student, not
When I was 12, my parents decided to build a new boat, and I went to the naval architect with my father, a professional boatbuilder, to finalize the purchase of the design. I was shocked by the price, calculating that it would take over 200 years of saving my weekly allowance to afford a design of my own. In 120
Hull construction, April 2005: the deck, bottom plates, and topsides are on.
Bagheera making her way through 10/10 glacial brash ice in west Greenland. We did not see any open water for more than eight miles. Photo by Frances Brann.
having a well-paying job, and all kinds of other excuses, as I did not really intend to start building right away. My father calculated that buying the steel would not cost very much and reminded me that I wouldn’t have to buy it all at once. Two months later, a large truckload of steel was delivered to a small building lot near my parents’ home. There was now no question as to how I would be spending my evenings and weekends.
It took my father and me four-and-a-half years to build a technically finished boat (with no interior) and get it ready to sail. All the work was done by hand in the open air, and the only piece of heavy equipment we had available was a forklift. Bagheera’s main design features were based on my 20 years of sailing experience with my family, combined with oceanracing experience I gained while working as a part-time sailmaker during my university years and deliveries of a wide variety of boats. My design brief was that she be simple, lowcost, low-maintenance, fast, ice-reinforced, well-insulated, comfortable, easy to handle singlehanded, and able to survive autonomously for a year; have enough power to push through 5/10 ice; and be capable of wintering over in the Arctic without damage. After launching in the early spring, we waited for a strong low to move in over the North Sea to give the boat a good practical test. We sailed the first half of the voyage downwind and the second half upwind to Norway, and it only took a day and a half to cover the 330 miles. After spending one night in Egersund, we sailed back to the Netherlands in a similar time frame with even stronger winds and more confused seas. This test voyage resulted in a list of repairs and improvements before we could cross the North Atlantic to Nova Scotia, where I had accepted a job as a naval architect. I had only a couple of months to make it there. Bagheera was to be my home. Among the tasks to be done was fixing a slow oil leak in the gearbox, raising the issue 62 2020
Erik’s father, Willem, rebuilding the engine before it is installed in Bagheera. Photo by Henny de Jong.
steering compass higher above the deck to have less interference with the boat’s steel hull, add some handrails, make small alterations to the reefing system of the mainsail, recalibrate the autopilot, remake the jack lines, add a couple of dead eyes in the cockpit for lifeline attachment, add nonskid to some of the interior parts, and get a Navtex to receive some ice information for the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. From the Netherlands, we sailed to the Orkney Islands, where we stopped briefly before continuing nonstop to Halifax. In theory, we wanted to sail far enough north that the lows would pass to our south, providing easterly winds. However, that spring, the lows were pushed much farther north, and we ended up sailing 19 days upwind, often in gale-force winds. It was Bagheera’s baptism by fire, and she withstood it all with flying colors.
corners, but her rudder, propulsion train, and ice reinforcement proved to be up to the job, and we made it out without a scratch. At other times, we have ridden out hurricane-force winds, both at sea and at anchor. While sailing from Newfoundland to Greenland in the early spring, we got a beating from a westerly storm. Sailing along at nine knots on a beam reach, Bagheera was negotiating the waves as if they were not even there until a wave significantly higher and steeper than any others we had encountered came out of nowhere. Before I could even take any form of action, the mast was under water. Within a matter of seconds, the boat was upright again, shaking the water off her decks and accelerating back to her favorite speed as if nothing had ever happened. Except for a big mess down below from a shattered container of pasta and bottle of olive oil, there was absolutely no damage.
That winter, I finished the interior, and Bagheera began her career as a charter boat in the Arctic. Over the years, we have facilitated research, film, photography, and mountaineering projects, as well as taken on adventurers, tourists, and milebuilding offshore sailors who wish to visit remote areas. During our voyages, Bagheera has proven that she can withstand anything that nature (and human stupidity) can throw at her. There has never been a moment that we felt unsafe or weren’t sure how she was going to behave. On one occasion, we had to push her through 8/10 ice to escape an ice-locked anchorage and negotiate 35 miles of heavy sea ice. The engine had to work overtime, and we needed to maneuver in tight 122
Bagheera on her way to the paint shed, with only one coat of primer on.
Eighty-plus knot wind gusts, howling though Kodiak harbor.
Setting up “science camp” on an ice sheet in the Central Arctic Ocean, 450 miles north of Point Barrow, Alaska.
Bagheera has hit uncharted rocks at full speed, and due to an autopilot error, she hit an iceberg that folded our 110-pound anchor around the bow like a piece of origami—but again, in neither case was there any form of damage to the boat. On another occasion, while in a side arm of Disko Bay in Greenland, an area that has about five feet of tidal difference, we decided to anchor in 17 feet of water with the tide still rising. At 3 a.m., we woke up to a wineglass shattering on the galley counter and realized that Bagheera was heeled over 20 degrees. Apparently, the tidal difference in the southeast corner of Disko Bay is more like 12 feet, and Bagheera was lying in four feet of water. Needless to say, the stout structure of the keel didn’t even register the incident.
One of my design requirements was that the boat should sail well, especially in light air and upwind. Most expeditionstyle boats are lacking on these two fronts. Bagheera could not be like that, as light air occurs frequently in the north, and one sails upwind about half the time in this area. Light wind capabilities are mostly determined by the ratio between wetted surface and sail area. We chose the smallest possible wetted surface that we could construct, and increased the rig size by 30 percent of what is typical on boats of this style and size. This has resulted in a reduced need for engine hours when sailing in the semi-permanent high-pressure zones in the Arctic. In order to sail upwind, we opted for a ten-foot-deep fixed keel with almost all the ballast in the lower third. One of the advantages of such a deep keel is that you can get the same righting moment with less ballast weight, and therefore can reduce the total weight of the boat. This was especially important since Bagheera is built of steel and is heavily ice-reinforced. By going deep with the keel, we could reduce the ballast ratio to only 25 percent and still have a stiff boat. In addition, the diesel tank is mostly in the keel fin, the batteries are right on top of the keel, the engine is just behind it, and the anchor chain (weighing a little over 900 pounds) is at the base of the mast, about three feet under the waterline. All this adds to the stability of the boat and makes her sail very upright. The tall rig and deep keel make her point high and sail upwind like no other cruising boat we’ve ever seen. She makes good headway even when the wind blows 50 knots on the nose in the open sea.
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While Bagheera’s keel has never been a problem when it comes to water depth, ten feet is about the maximum practical depth for handling a boat on dry land in a boatyard, and we have occasionally come across yards that can’t lift her high enough. Still, the performance advantage outweighs any haulout inconvenience. The accommodations are very simple. The boat is divided into six watertight compartments by various bulkheads, which also make up the interior. These bulkheads are well-insulated to create both noise and temperature barriers. When we decide to spend a winter in the high Arctic, we can close parts of the boat off with the watertight doors, which leaves a small, very wellinsulated space that is efficient to heat. Steel boats have a bad reputation for being rust buckets and maintenance nightmares. But in our experience, they will be almost maintenance-free for decades, assuming that an appropriate paint system is selected and properly applied. Bagheera is painted with a two-part epoxy paint, originally developed for large commercial cargo ships. The steel that was procured for building the boat was pre-sandblasted and coated with a welding primer. When it was time to paint, we sandblasted half the inside of the boat on the first day, cleaned up all the sand and dust, and painted that part with an etch primer. The next day, we did the other half of the inside, and on the third day, we completed the outside of the boat. The interior received four coats of primer and one coat of finish paint. On top of that, we applied a gas-tight, fire-retardant, two-part polyurethane insulation foam that varies from three to six inches thick. We coated the outside with 12 thick layers of primer and two layers 124
of topcoat in the final color. When selecting the colors, we wanted to use something that stood out, was memorable, and had added value. After reading various articles on visibility of yachts at sea, we concluded that the topsides of the hull should be a dark color, and the deck an unusually bright color. Studies have shown that dark-colored hulls are more visible from the bridge of a ship in bad weather, while the bright, contrasting color shows better from the air in case of a SAR mission. We opted for black and yellow, as those two colors complement each other and are easy to get used to. An unintentional but positive side effect is that yellow is an absolutely brilliant color for contrast with nature and wildlife photography. We get a lot of professional and semi-professional photographers onboard, who all seem to love the contrast between nature and the yellow deck. It also results in Bagheera being very recognizable. We are very happy with the rig. The mast is made by Selden and is superb in quality and performance. It features an internal rail that is part of the extrusion, which allows the mainsail cars to be inside the mast. In addition to avoiding an expensive, high-maintenance external rail, this also saves weight aloft. I made our Hydranet Radial sails myself—a woven blend of polyester and Dyneema that is extremely durable, flexible, and lightweight. After 75,000 miles, we are still using the original sails, which still have practically the same shape that they had when they were new. Bagheera’s electronics are extremely simple. No instrument talks to another, which basically means that there is no network onboard. A backup battery bank for emergency situations will independently feed the main communications equipment as well
as the important navigational equipment. All the electronics are by Furuno, and none have ever failed us. Even when we endured a direct lightning strike, most of the instruments continued working. For long-distance communication, we use Iridium, with a main-unit pilot that was installed in 2017. It gives us 128 kilobits-per-second internet aboard and never seems to drop a single bit. Disappointingly, our two autopilots are not troublefree. The first, a Furuno NavPilot, originally drove an electric motor made by Jefa. However, the clutches kept failing, resulting in a pilot that can no longer engage. We added a hydraulic ram to the Furuno-driven quadrant and added a Simrad autopilot, which drives a completely new electric motor, also by Jefa. Even though it is a very expensive unit, it has already failed four times, each time for a different reason. The problem has always been resolved under warranty, but it is an absolute pain in the neck. The electrical motor is another story—it too keeps failing, and the clutches are flimsy at best. After eight years of struggling with the manufacturer and very high bills, we decided to give up on them and rely on hydraulics instead. The Furuno itself has never missed a beat so far, which only confirms my faith in this professional, ocean-going brand. The engine is a story unto its own. For budgetary reasons, we installed a 30-year-old, rebuilt Ford Lehman. A heavy, medium-rpm, six-cylinder diesel, it is extremely simple and requires no special knowledge or tools to keep it running. It has only one big design flaw that we found the hard way, twice. The fuel return lines, which also cool the injectors, are under the rocker cover, meaning that any leak in the 36 connections in the return line remain unnoticed until the engine stops—which happens because the engine oil becomes diluted by diesel and loses its lubricating capabilities. The result is a seized engine that cannot be repaired and must instead be completely rebuilt, and the crankshaft machined. The first time this happened, in 2014, we were in Greenland. I managed to buy half an engine
Encountering a gale in the Beaufort Sea, September 2015. Photo by Frances Brann.
block in good condition and had it flown to Greenland, where, after a few days of long intensive work, we managed to get one working engine out of two partial engines. The next failure, for the same reason, occurred while we were on our way to the Arctic. We were only 30 miles away from home when the engine seized. This time, the Ford Lehman was replaced by a modern common-rail Yanmar—half the weight, half the size, less noise, and substantial fuel savings, but above all, practically maintenance-free compared to the Ford. The downside was that it cost a lot of money, and it took another 10 days to completely rebuild the engine room while we were under a lot of pressure to make it north for the Arctic research project we had committed to. Bagheera still has many years ahead of her. For our style of travel, the knowledge that we had at the time of building, and the available budget, Bagheera has been perfect, and she is lowmaintenance. After having sailed with Bagheera for over ten years, there is very little that we would do differently. 2 For more information about Bagheera, see bagheerasailing.com
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Erik de Jong and his wife, Krystina Scheller, started blue water cruising as infants onboard their parents’ boats. Being drawn to Arctic waters, they met each other in Greenland and have sailed together ever since, either on the same boat or on separate boats in company with each other. In the winter, they live at their house in Sitka and in the summer, they sail in the Arctic or their home waters in Alaska.
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Such a Drag!! by Mark Roye, Pacific Northwest Station Photographs by Nancy Krill
Modern Alaskan seine fishing boat.
n early March gale had raged all night—snow mixed with rain, sweeping down from the heavily forested peaks above my anchorage at Naked Island, in the middle of Alaska’s Prince William Sound. These were not unusual conditions for this time of the year at nearly 61° north latitude, particularly so close to the equinox. In fact, I’d experienced the same in this region many times during the annual early spring herring fishery. I’d weathered spring storms in an anchorage just a few miles away, where George Vancouver’s HMS Discovery had been torn from her moorings in 1794, losing her precious anchors in the process. Vancouver had been forced to weather the storm at sea. In more than 35 years as a nearly full-time mariner, first as a fisherman, then as a cruising sailor, I’d only found myself dragging anchor three times. I clearly remember each occasion. The first was about the same time of the year, in the same harbor that had been Vancouver’s undoing. My 91-foot Quin Delta 126
lay in Port Chalmers, with my other boat, the 66-foot Triton, secured along the port side. On the starboard side, a 52-foot modern Alaskan seine fishing boat was secured, its crew making repairs to their net as we waited out the storm and anticipated the arrival of great schools of herring. Keeping a close watch while I swapped sea stories with Dave Wendall, captain of the Triton, it became apparent that even the Quin’s 1,000-pound Navy anchor could not continue to hold the entire flotilla, and we were ever so slowly dragging astern. We said our goodbyes, let go the lines from both of the smaller boats, and watched them move in closer to shore to find their own shelter. That’s all it took. Relieved of the loads imposed by the other two boats, we were once again secure. The other occasions were both in the mouth of the Naknek River in Bristol Bay, in the southeastern part of the Bering Sea. Bristol Bay, named by Captain Cook for the English port of
the same name, is annually the locus of one of the world’s most important fisheries. Every season for millennia, tens of millions of sockeye salmon (oncorhynchus nerka) return to their natal spawning streams, which flow from lakes in the great mountain range to the east. Bristol Bay experiences one of the greatest tidal exchanges anywhere in the world. That fact of nature was actually a crucial element of my business plan. The Quin Delta had been specially designed to be both very shallow of draft, while at the same time a superb sea boat capable of traveling throughout the enormous range of Alaska’s coastline in order to ply her trade. In Bristol Bay, our job would be to offload tons of salmon from smaller catcher boats, immerse them immediately in refrigerated seawater, then transport this product to waiting ships or shore-based processing plants. Because of the extreme tides, access to these shore plants could be very difficult. This is where the Quin Delta excelled, and that was part of my stock-in-trade. The company for which we were providing these tendering services had assigned us duty in the mouth of the Naknek, just inside the regulatory line that defined the legal fishing area. This made us readily available to the smaller catcher boats, allowing them to quickly offload and return to fishing.
The enormous tidal exchange of the bay meant that the lower reaches of rivers like the Naknek experienced very powerful reversing currents during each tide cycle. As the tidal current reversed direction and gained velocity, it dislodged the Quin’s massive anchor, and we dragged a very short distance. After the second such episode, we simply got into the habit of drumming up the ⅞-inch wire rope and 1⅛-inch stud-link chain anchor rode onto the massive windlass on the foredeck, moving ahead a few yards, then laying out the ground tackle once again, but now in the direction appropriate for the force of the tidal current. As was always our practice, not only during the storm in Port Chalmers or in the currents of the Naknek River, we’d lay out a very generous scope of rode, then begin to back down the nearly 200 tons of boat and product. As the wire came tight, I taught my crew to hold it with an ungloved hand, literally feeling the wire begin to “sing” to them, and to interpret its vibrations like a train robber, his ear to the rail. If the anchor was skipping along the bottom, they would feel each rock it passed over and signal me with an up and down motion of their outstretched arm. Once it gained hold, they’d nod their head signifying “yes.” I would add power progressively, both engines in reverse. If the anchor moved at all, they could feel it through the wire, and they would repeat the arm signal. But
Sixty-six-foot fishing vessel Triton, secured alongside during the storm in Port Chalmers. issue 62 2020
Ninety-one-foot fishing vessel Quin Delta. The large anchor windlass, designed to handle wire rope and heavy chain, is visible on the foredeck, although nearly empty of rode due to the depths in this anchorage.
if it held, they would continue to nod their heads as more and more power was applied until the thrust of both main engines coursed through the hull, foam boiling beneath the stern. If the wire still sang the correct tune as it took up the strain, the crew would make a thumbs-up signal. Only then would I consider the boat secured. As I brought the throttles back down and shifted into neutral, the crew on the foredeck would set the dog on the windlass and secure the brake before returning to the comfort of the warm galley. We did this procedure hundreds—no, thousands—of times over the decades. Only on those three occasions did we ever drag anchor, notwithstanding boats secured alongside, storms, and tides, and even, on a few occasions, football-fieldsized sheets of ice drifting down on the bows, riding up the wire rope until finally splitting apart and passing down each side. When our hands had told us that we were made fast to the bottom of the sea, we were confident that we were indeed secure. Even so, we still posted an anchor watch that relied on human eyeballs as well as electronic devices. At the start of the new millennium, I got a surprise opportunity to realize the long-held dream of cruising under sail, and I sold the fishing boats. But I came away with those lessons learned, and did my best to apply them to our pursuit of personal adventure. In the decade and a half that Nancy and I have cruised Tamara, we have followed pretty much the same procedure. 128
Unlike the wire rope on the Quin Delta, Tamara’s anchor rode, like most well-found long-distance cruisers, is all chain. Though it doesn’t “sing” under tension in the same way as wire, the chain nevertheless transmits a lot of information about the bottom that the haptic senses translate in the brain. I hold my hand around the chain, and as Nancy progressively adds power in reverse, we use the same signals. We added a few more, just to satisfy my own sense of ultimate responsibility. Since I was not at the helm and couldn’t judge the amount of power applied, our signals grew to include my upwardly extended and twirling index finger to signal that Nancy could apply more power, and then she would signal me with a down-turned palm, waved horizontally, to indicate half astern, then finally an upturned thumb to signify full astern. Cruising from the Arctic to the Antarctic and on to Alaska, Nancy and I have been forced to advance this basic technique to suit local conditions. We learned which bottom strata afforded the best holding, and we’d search out that material as indicated on the chart. I’d make notes in the log of the material that came up on the anchor or in the chain, and correlate that to the ease— or better yet, the difficulty—with which the anchor broke out once we had shortened up. Our personal favorite became clay with some sand and firm mud mixed in, the way a good brick is cast. At times, we’d look for streams entering the anchorage that might have carried down suitable material. And we learned that the best shelter from the wind was seldom offered by high terrain, but more often by an even saddle-shaped land feature of more moderate elevation that wouldn’t generate violent
Tamara secured in Home Cove, Nuka Bay, Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska. Home Cove is little affected by the williwaws prone to this mountainous area, and affords protection even during severe southeasterly storms.
williwaws, offering instead more consistent—though sometimes higher—winds. In 15 years and tens upon tens of thousands of miles, anchoring hundreds of times in the most challenging of cruising grounds in both the northern and southern hemispheres, once we had felt the anchor grab hold and survive our demanding mechanical stress test, Tamara had never, not once, dragged anchor. There had been occasions in Labrador near Hudson Strait, in Antarctica, Patagonia, and on the Alaska Peninsula when violent katabatic winds had laid Tamara completely over on her beam ends, sailing back and forth on her chain, the surface of the anchorage boiled into a tempest even close-in to the shore, but not once did we fail to hold our position. Until that wet and cold wintry day at Naked Island. It was just an ordinary gale, winds of 35 knots or so. Nothing compared to some of the full storms that often bring hurricane strength wind to this region, especially near the equinox. Once anchored, I’d secured the all-chain with a hook shackled to stout Spectra line. Without Nancy at the helm, as I was alone on my annual late winter solo cruise in the sound, I had to make my way back and forth from the bow to the cockpit a number of times as I backed down with progressively more power applied. After the 88-pound Delta anchor felt well bedded, as indicated by my grasp of the ⅜-inch chain, I throttled down Tamara’s powerful main engine, squared away the deck, fitted a nylon snubber over
the bow to the chain, then shut down the engine and most of the electronic equipment, except one of the two Furuno GP-32 full-featured GPS units aboard. The GPS, in addition to supplying data to a computer chart plotter as well as radio communications and AIS systems, has its own stand-alone display. Included in these options is a small track plotter with an electronic alarm function. After marking our position, I set the anchor alarm to sound a warning should Tamara move more than .03 nautical miles from the designated spot. Why that particular distance value? I’d anchored in six fathoms depth and laid out about 30 fathoms of chain. One one-hundredth of a nautical mile is about 60 feet. Thirty fathoms of chain would be just about .03 mile, so a .03-mile setting would permit Tamara to swing a considerable distance, side to side on her chain, without triggering the alarm, but should we begin to move astern, beyond the arc of that swing, the alarm would sound almost immediately. Periodically, throughout the evening, I glanced at the GPS to check our position. The plot on the display showed that indeed we would transverse a wide arc as we swung, but even with the swing, we never moved more than .02 miles—120 feet—from the initial position. Assured that we were secure, I got a good night’s rest. The next morning, although the wind was up, it still was not so high as to trigger the alarm I’d also set on the wind instrument. The GPS indicated that we were still well within the .02-mile arc of swing. issue 62 2020
Yendagarra: Preparing to anchor Tamara after breaking out a place in the ice, Chilean Patagonia.
Naked Island, where Tamara dragged her anchor.
Tamara in foreground and Canadian yacht Seaburban in far background, anchored in spectacular, but very challenging Agripina Bay, Katmai National Park, Alaska Peninsula. Violent katabatic winds can sweep across the mountains from the Bering Sea to the north, demanding extra vigilance and prudent anchoring practices.
At noon, the anchor alarm sounded. The wind had remained about the same—strong but not alarmingly so—and I expected to note a directional shift that would explain the alarm when I consulted the GPS display. But we were still oriented in the same direction, swinging along the same arc. A glance through the Lexan companionway drop-board confirmed the display. Then I noted that the GPS now indicated .04 miles, then .05 miles from the initial position. Tamara was dragging her anchor! I immediately climbed the companionway ladder and cranked the starter on the 90-horsepower diesel engine. It started instantly. The ambient water temperature, although a few degrees higher than normal, was still only 38 degrees. In the well-insulated engine compartment, the temperature seldom exceeds the water temperature unless the engine or generator has been operating, so it is my practice to run the generator twice per day, not only to keep all systems fully charged, but also to maintain a good startup temperature should the main engine be needed. Preparation, one small part of seamanship, had paid its dividend. But then I broke one of my own rules of seamanship, learned and practiced over a long career: DO NOTHING IN HASTE—ESPECIALLY WHEN TIME IS IMPORTANT! The Latin proverb festima lente, or “hurry slowly,” came to mind. Patience, the first tenet of seamanship, had escaped me.
Scrambling back down below to turn on the depth sounder and chart plotter, and to quickly don outerwear suitable for at least a few minutes topside in wind, snow, and rain, my haste resulted in my going down the ladder with my back to the treads. Of course, I knew I should always face in toward the treads and firmly grasp both handholds, but I was thinking ahead rather than in the moment. My foot shot off the tread, I went straight down, and though I landed on both feet, the inside of one knee and the opposite elbow suffered hammer-like blows from each rung on the way down. The pain was exquisite, and brought me instantly back to the present. The future would have to wait its turn. It’s true that we often learn more from making bad decisions than good ones because the consequences are less ambiguous. There certainly was nothing ambiguous about my pain! Turning on the instruments that would give me essential information while wriggling into hooded jacket, over-pants, and fur-lined boots, I donned a PFD, grabbed a pair of fleecelined vinyl gloves, and reclimbed the ladder. We were moving rapidly now, Tamara broadside to the wind, notwithstanding the heavy anchor and chain still deployed over the bow. The ragged point of rocks protruding from the north shore of the entrance to the anchorage was coming up alarmingly fast. Though counterintuitive, the very speed dictated that now, of all times, I must act slowly and with deliberation.
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Tamara anchored near Inuit Inukshuk, northern Labrador. Sometimes referred to as stone men, these simple cairns guided the ancients as well as modern voyagers.
Firefighters, mountain rescue personnel, and avalanche responders put this concept into a simple acronym: STOP— Stop, Think, Observe, and Plan. I didn’t recite this useful mantra, but sobered by my fall, I engaged in much the same calculus. Putting the helm down, I gave a burst of power and brought her head to the wind, then continued for a bit, running up on the chain. Unlike rope, the chain would sink fast and stay clear of the propeller, at least as long as I exercised good judgment. Judgment, like preparation and patience, is another of the essential elements of seamanship, and now it had become paramount.
Now things followed the familiar routine. Glancing at the electronic chart, I worked Tamara close in to the lee offered by the shore, repositioning her a hundred yards or so closer in and to the north of the original position, hoping to avoid whatever bottom condition had failed me in the first attempt. The chart had no bottom strata information, and I had no notes from any previous visit, so once again I’d have to rely on touch and positioning information while setting the anchor. Deploying even more chain than before, backing with increasing power while feeling the chain and checking my bearings, I was reasonably confident that we were once again secure.
It would be difficult, without the help of a helmsman, to bring in the heavy chain and anchor, as the wind kept forcing Tamara’s bow out of the eye of the wind, causing the chain to come in over the bow roller at a right angle. I listened carefully to the mechanical protests of the powerful windlass, then moved—without haste—back to the helm to repeat the burst of power and the run up the chain, back to the windlass, bringing in more chain, then again. Three or four repetitions of this cycle, and the anchor was up.
Within a few hours the wind subsided, the sky brightened a bit, and I passed a pleasant evening planning the following day’s run. I gave a good deal of thought to what might have occasioned the entire event and concluded that it could only have been due to the quality of the bottom of the seabed, but would have to wait until morning for proof.
The next day the sky had cleared, a gentle breeze from the west assured a beautiful day, and the high snow-covered
mountains around the sound shimmered in the morning light. The peaks themselves, however, served more to focus my attention on what had occurred the day before. These were heavily glaciated, take-no-prisoners mountains, encompassing one of the most beautiful, but least forgiving, parts of the world. They, like the sea itself, didn’t care one or way or another whether I lived or died. That was entirely up to me. Hauling back the ground tackle showed nothing unusual until the last few fathoms of chain. Inside each link was an oozing mud—“squishy,” as Nancy would say. No clay, sand, or firm mud. Good enough to hold up to a point, but not up to
the loads generated over time as Tamara’s bow sailed back and forth overnight at the whim of the williwaws. That information is now underlined in red in my log. What did I learn from the event? Nothing that I’d not long known, except that long knowing something and practicing it can be two different things all together. Practice—another of those essential elements of seamanship. All that you might know is for nothing unless you put it into practice. This article originally appeared in Cruising World, February 2019. ✧
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Mark Roye and Nancy Krill make their home in Port Townsend, Washington. Their 44-foot Swedish steel ketch Tamara has safely carried them more than 60,000 miles, mostly in high latitudes, both north and south. After a voyage that took them from the Arctic to the Antarctic, then home to Alaska, they continue their search for adventure in the vastness of the north, regardless of the season. They were awarded the Charles H. Vilas Prize in 2011 and the Royal Cruising Club Trophy in 2012. Their adventures are chronicled at krillroye.com, krillroye. blogspot.com, and in numerous sailing publications. Their slide presentation has been widely acclaimed. Among Mark’s previous contributions to Voyages is a 2014 article on safety at sea, “No Drill!” Mark and Nancy are pictured here aboard Tamara in Ushuaia, Argentina.
issue 62 2020
Christmas in the Abacos by Nat Benjamin, Boston Station, Buzzards Bay Post
CHRISTMAS DAY, 1967, ELBOW KEY: At 1100 hours, we set our anchor on a grassy sand conch pasture under 12 feet of sapphire sea. Caribbesque, our 1960 32-foot William Garden sloop, lay quietly, cooled by a soft breeze passing over the reef to windward.
wrestling sails, navigating, sewing, cooking, and maintaining, as captain Tiff insisted, constant vigilance. At age 20, I was on the bottom rung of the ladder.
I hastily flaked the jib on the foredeck and lashed it with a couple of sail stops, while Vince Roberts, our navigator, and Tiff Fay, the skipper, furled the mainsail. Maureen (Mo) O’Sullivan, our slender brunette cook, was rummaging in the galley, her thoughts on Christmas dinner. I was craving my first swim in tropical water and a dive on the reef—in a wonderland I had only imagined from thumbing through my parents’ copy of Silent World by Jacques Cousteau.
Observing the palm-fringed white-sand beaches, swaying deep-green casuarina pines, and the variable blues of the Bahamian banks, I couldn’t imagine why anyone would live anywhere else. But my thoughts wandered home. Home to my family and the deep-rooted traditions of Christmas in the Hudson River highlands. Home to a Christmas dinner at Ienia in Garrison, New York, with 24 first cousins and that many more aunts, uncles, and distant relatives who would descend from all corners of the country to reunite the Benjamin family. It was my favorite day of the year. We called it Benjamania.
It had been a rough passage from Morehead City—eight days offshore. We had worked well together, standing watches,
Vince, our navigator, was eager to show me the reef, just as he had instructed me in the use of the sextant, almanacs, and
Nurse sharks in crystal clear waters. Photo by Zdenka Seiner Griswold (BOS/GMP).
“He moved with effortless grace, unhurried and dignified, his legendary jaws closed and his eye steady on us, wearing an expression of loneliness.
star-finder during the voyage south. Through years of scavenging in these islands and once shipwrecked on San Salvador, he had developed a preternatural power of observation and had that sixth sense that comes with living on the edge of adventure and peril. He could pick arrowheads out of a field or find shark teeth lodged in a cliff—a “piece of eight” in the sand. His brain worked liked a sculptor, chopping away at anything not resembling the object he sought. He knew how to live off the sea. Emptying the contents of a large mesh bag on the cockpit sole, Vince told me to pick out a mask, snorkel and fins. I adjusted the strap on my mask, selected a purple snorkel, pulled on a pair of black-and-yellow fins, and waddled toward the rail, penguin style. “Don’t put your mask on now,” said Vince, with an impish grin. “Won’t work on a dry head.”
“Got it, Vince.” I flopped over the side, landing like a suitcase in the water. “Now spit in the mask and swish it around; it will keep the glass from fogging up.” Looking through my freshly salivated mask, the turquoise blur and all its contents suddenly came into focus, magnified and clear. I felt I could reach down and scoop the wavy patterns of sand, two fathoms below. Vince cannonballed next to me, flooding my snorkel. I spat out my mouthpiece and coughed up the seawater in my lungs. “Blow the water OUT of your snorkel before you inhale, Nat.” “Duh,” I thought to myself. issue 62 2020
Tiff stood by the starboard shrouds, his long black hair tied back in a ponytail, his brown eyes twinkling like Santa, and a broad grin planted on his freshly shaven face. I hadn’t expected to provide such entertainment.
From somewhere in the endless blue around us, an eightfoot shark cruised across our path, 15 feet ahead. He moved with effortless grace, unhurried and dignified, his legendary jaws closed and his eye steady on us, wearing an expression of loneliness.
“Hey Mo, toss us a couple of spear guns,” said Vince. Mo leaned over the rail and handed us our weapons. “Bring home a tasty Christmas dinner ... that will fit in the oven.” I knew she would create an epicurean masterpiece from the results of our hunt. After all, for eight days, she transformed cans of Dinty Moore into culinary triumphs. We swam toward lighter shades of blue. I powered along, the fins turbo-charging my legs, leaving my arms relaxed and my hands free to point at questionable creatures. I dove to the bottom to check out the anchor, which lay on a clump of weeds like an old plow abandoned in a field. I looked up at Caribbesque, tethered by a thread, her hull suspended, shafts of sunlight outlining her silhouette. I swam to the surface, expelled the water from my snorkel, and took a deep breath. As we approached the reef, grazing conch and starfish were joined by sea urchins tucked in the valleys of brain coral, their black clusters of toxic spines reaching out. 136
I nudged Vince. Treading water, he addressed my concern. “That’s a lemon shark. They’re well-fed around here. Swim toward them and they’ll usually go away. Never turn your back to them. Look all around you. If one gets too close, whack it in the nose with the butt end of your spear gun. Of course, never draw blood.” I had heard these instructions before on more than one occasion during long night watches. Observing this prehistoric creature, at one with the sea, I felt even more out of my element. “A fish out of water” brought home a whole new meaning. We continued toward the reef, kicking along the surface, our snorkels poking above the ripples while we looked through our masks at a world without air. The seabed rose and schools of tiny iridescent blue and green fish swept close by, unconcerned. Thoughts of punching a nosy shark in the snout were washed away with the arrival of a four-foot barracuda, eyeing us inquisitively, its menacing jaws opening and closing methodically, exposing razor-sharp pointed teeth.
I needed more counsel from Vince. “Keep an eye on ‘em, Nat. These guys can be a nuisance. If you spear a fish with a barracuda nearby, he’ll dart over in a flash and steal your catch, or at least half of it ... rip it right off your spear. Get your next meal back to the boat fast and don’t trail it too close to your body.”
Above and below: The author’s boat, Charlotte, in the Bahamas.
While I processed those consuming concepts, we floated into the magical theater of the coral reef. Our world transformed into a fusion of skeletons, reaching upward from the rocky bottom. Every branch, bubbling tube and crenulated mound reflected startling shades of yellow, pink, and green, set against a canvas of mutable blues. Red anemones swirled with symbiotic clown fish, sequestered within their forest of poison tentacles. Crabs and shrimp squiggled along in the bony scrabble. Finely woven, mottled green sea fans waved at us in peaceful arcs, luring us into their mysterious domain. A brown moray eel retreated at our approach, slinking back into its lair. Its head became one with the cave, only a pair of beady eyes to keep watch for the next victim. A pale spotted octopus saw us coming and, I suppose embarrassed, turned bright red, then folded itself up and vanished behind a cloud issue 62 2020
Photo by Zdenka Seiner Griswold.
Photo credit—James St. John.
Photo credit—Matt Kieffer from London, United Kingdom—CC BY-SA.
“On the coral reef, the beauty of life rests
in an equal symmetry of death. Cycles of life balance harmoniously, within the surreal webs of the silent world, no less sentient than our own.
of black ink. Horizontally striped parrotfish and triggerfish coursed along the avenues and passageways, twisting through the octopus’s garden just a few feet below the surface. An angelfish swam up and looked me in the face, a foot or so away. She had blue lips, red eyes, flamboyant purple and gold stripes along her oval profile, pink dorsal fins, and a red tail. What kind of world is this, I wondered. Then I tried to imagine what the angelfish saw. A dull, tan, scale-less hulk, with yellow hair, forward-facing blinking eyes encased in glass, and a purple hose protruding from its mouth. She observed me in sympathetic bewilderment, slowly moving her head from side to side. We parted with a better understanding of our respective wild kingdoms. A poke from Vince awakened me from my mesmeric state. I followed his gun, pointed at a stealth black stingray, gliding past us, its ominous shadow moving over creatures below that rushed for cover. We watched it fly, graceful delta wings sweeping and curling dreamily along, trailing a deadly stinger in its tail. Surfacing again, Vince remarked, “The wing tips are a wonderful delicacy. Perhaps we’ll shoot one in the Exumas. They’re bigger down there.” Returning my focus to the reef, I was uplifted by the sight of a playful green turtle paddling along above a rose coral terrace. It looked happy, like a kid getting out of school, whistling a happy tune. A dusky damselfish swam obliviously in front of the turtle. The turtle snapped the damselfish neatly in half and, without altering course, deftly consumed its fragmented parts. On the coral reef, the beauty of life rests in an equal symmetry of death. Cycles of life balance harmoniously, within the surreal webs of the silent world, no less sentient than our own. We floated above this discovery in Technicolor until the long shadow of a passing cloud sent a chill through us and dimmed the light on the ocean’s stage. It was time for us to return to the boat. Time to return to my new home. Not the place where I was from, but the place where I was needed. I wondered what Vince would select for our Christmas dinner.
About the Author In 1972, Nat Benjamin and his family sailed into Vineyard Haven harbor on a 1921 Johan Anker 10-meter class sloop. In 1980, together with Ross Gannon, another craftsman hooked on boats and sailing, Nat founded the Gannon & Benjamin Marine Railway boatyard, specializing in the design, construction, and repair of wooden boats. Since its founding, Gannon & Benjamin has built and restored numerous boats, nurtured many budding craftsmen, and taken a lot of people sailing. Nat and Ross have built over 70 substantial vessels, mostly to designs by Nat. The partners take pride in building boats that are known for their seaworthiness, practicality, speed, elegant simplicity, meticulous craftsmanship, and use of the highest quality materials. Nat and his wife Pam sail their 50-foot schooner Charlotte out of Vineyard Haven, and enjoy voyaging to faraway places. “I try to combine the basic ingredients for safety, speed, and comfort with a strong emphasis on good looks. I’m not concerned with any rating system. I prefer to see men, women, and children sailing with a smile. I feel it is very important to keep an eye on current trends, but not to be influenced by the glitter, only the grace.”—Nat Benjamin
issue 62 2020
On Second Thought, by Amy Jordan and Roger Block, Boston Station
ver the years, our favorite cruising has usually involved tropical settings, trade-wind passages, and remote anchorages. Given this history, how did we end up bundled in a thick quilt in Shango’s v-berth on a windy and rainy 40-degree day in August, rafted up with a stranger in a harbor filled with hundreds of other boats in Dartmouth, England? Even stranger, how was it that we were thoroughly enjoying ourselves? It all started in the fall of 2018, just as hurricane season was coming to an end. Shango was safely on the hard at Shelter Bay Marina in Panama. We were trying, with some difficulty, to decide on our next season’s cruising destination. It was during these deliberations that an email arrived from friends who described their loose plans to spend the winter in the Bahamas, then head to Bermuda and the Azores in the late spring of 2019. Would we be interested? We had always enjoyed cruising with them, whether in Fiji, South Africa, Maine, or Nova Scotia, and it would also involve new cruising grounds for us. We didn’t have a clue about where we would go after the Azores, but there would be plenty of warm destinations to choose from—Spain, Portugal, the Mediterranean. We had the makings of a plan. After leaving Panama, we spent an enjoyable winter in the Bahamas. May 2019 found us in St. George’s, Bermuda, waiting for a weather window to head for the Azores. Our two weeks in Bermuda had been great. Les Crane (BDA) had graciously made us welcome at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club for the length of our stay. Then, as often happens in cruising, the unexpected occurred, and our friends needed to head back to New England. Sadly, Shango would be heading to the Azores without them.
do you do “What while you wait for weather? You imagine you’ll be stuck forever and begin to rethink your options.
Let’s Go to London Six weeks later, after the passage to the Azores and visits to four of its nine islands, we were waiting in Praia da Vitória on Terceira for a weather window to Spain. The plan was to sail from the Azores to the rivers of Atlantic Spain, then on to Portugal, finally leaving the boat in the Algarve before our three-month Schengen visa ran out. It was a fine plan, but did not take into account the weather’s refusal to cooperate. The Portuguese trades were howling down the coast of the Iberian Peninsula with no signs of quitting, and our immigration clock was beginning to tick rather loudly.
It was a cloudy passage.
What do you do while you wait for weather? You imagine you’ll be stuck forever and begin to rethink your options. We could certainly turn south and head for Madeira and the Canaries. The wind would be perfect for that, but we hadn’t even made it across the Atlantic yet. That would never do. Should we sail south, straight for the Algarve and the Mediterranean? We knew that these options were not ideal, since it would be very unlikely that we would ever get back north to Atlantic Spain. Meanwhile, anchored nearby were several friendly English boats waiting to head home. We began to wonder whether we issue 62 2020
passages. Unfortunately, with the cloudy skies, we weren’t able to enjoy the moon-filled sky until the last few nights. On the morning of our ninth day, we made landfall, passing the Lizard, the often-stormy headland, in a flat calm with a current in our favor. We had successfully rounded our first English Channel hazard without drama. Later that morning, as we made our way into the River Fal in southwest England’s County Cornwall, we found ourselves flanked by two castles: Pendennis and St. Mawes. Both were built by Henry VIII. It was an impressive welcome to England. On entering Falmouth Harbour that first day, we were immediately reminded of England’s enduring maritime history as a wide array of classic-looking boats bobbed gracefully around us. We would learn to recognize a few types over the coming weeks, but it would take a lifetime to learn them all: gaffers, luggers, smacks, Thames sailing barges, herring drifters, Brixham trawlers, and the local craft, the Falmouth working boat.
The gaff ketch Donna Capel, Falmouth, Cornwall.
should take advantage of the wind and sail north with them to England. For many years, we had harbored a fantasy of taking the boat to London, and suddenly, here we were, within striking distance. We thought we should at least consider the option, especially since the U.K. would free us from the Schengen visa limits. Over multiple rounds of tea and biscuits and occasionally things stronger, our neighbors began to outline what might be a lovely cruise along the south coast of England, followed by a run up the Thames to London. The Lizard, Portland Bill, the Needles, and the Solent, all places we’d only ever read about, suddenly entered the realm of possibility. During our planning for the Atlantic crossing the previous winter, we had, on a whim, purchased an English Channel approach chart and a Channel Pilot. It turned out to be money well spent, for on a rainy July morning, we raised our anchor and headed for a waypoint just west of the English Channel. The passage to England was uneventful. The wind was reasonable for most of the trip. It came from a variety of angles and in different strengths, reminding us regularly that this wasn’t our usual trade-wind fare. After the rain on our departure day, it never rained again, though it did remain overcast for the majority of the voyage. When you’re lucky, a weather window and a full moon occur together. This was one of those lucky 142
One old boat, a 52-foot wooden gaff ketch called Donna Capel, quickly became our favorite. Her owners, John and Jo Davison, caught our lines as we arrived at Falmouth’s Port Pendennis Marina. We quickly struck up a friendship, sharing a number of meals and anchorages during our coastal cruise. Their Colin, our walking and pub guide, Dartmouth, Devon.
Foul weather, Dartmouth, Devon.
enthusiasm for the Cornwall and Devon coasts was contagious, and we too soon fell in love with the area’s charms as we cruised from one lovely river to the next. The Helford and the Fal, the Fowey and the Yealm, and the Dart and the Lynher are just a few of the rivers of the West Country. Each was beautiful in its own way, but they all had in common a number of wonderful features which were highlights of our cruise of this coast. First among these were their public walking paths. From the long-distance paths, such as the Southwest Coastal Path, to local “permissive paths,” which allow public passage over private lands, the hiking was idyllic. Fields of glowing green grass and flocks of sheep alternated with craggy coastlines and hidden pebble beaches. We spent many happy days wandering around the countryside. A second feature, which goes hand in hand with the first, is the English pub. As thirsty walkers, we appreciated the pubs’ strategic placement in every village, large or small. Needless to say, we made a great study of these cozy watering holes and the wonders of real ale. In Dartmouth, on one particularly memorable day, we managed to get ourselves lost while wandering through the woods. In a very short time, help presented itself. “Do you know where you are?” Roger asked the dapper fellow who had just rounded the corner behind us. “As a matter of fact, I do,” replied the man who introduced himself as Colin Campbell. “Follow me and I’ll show you the path.” Of course, the path inevitably led to his favorite pub.
Exiting the Port of Dover, the famous white cliffs in the foreground.
Not least among the rewards was the opportunity to improve our understanding of England’s past. Cruising through Cornwall and Devon allowed us to gain a much clearer knowledge of Roman and Saxon history, the progression through the centuries of the various kings and queens, and, of course, English military history. As always in new cruising grounds, there were lessons to be learned and adjustments to be made. Rafting up, trot moorings, and pontoon docks, at first somewhat disquieting, soon became the familiar norm. Figuring out the enigma that was the coastal marine VHF weather forecast took us more than a few days. Most importantly, tides and currents were consulted before wind speed and direction. Every move was tide dependent. We learned early on to plan well in advance, especially if there was a deadline lurking. From the bucolic rivers of Cornwall and Devon, we headed east to the Solent, an amazingly busy body of water protected from the English Channel by the Isle of Wight. The first America’s Cup was awarded here by the Royal Yacht Squadron to the schooner America in 1851. Mere hours after we tucked ourselves into cozy Lymington Harbour, just off the Solent, the wind began to blow in earnest. Sadly, our planned exploration of this historic piece of water was undertaken in a series of ferry excursions as the wind continued to howl. From Cowes Race Week to Nelson’s ship Victory, we were constantly reminded of England’s deep-rooted maritime history. issue 62 2020
The cruise east wasnâ€™t without its uncomfortable moments. Being rafted up on a trot mooring during a two-day gale was not an experience for the faint of heart. Rounding the notorious headland, Portland Bill, even the recommended seven miles offshore was a bit nerve-racking, and entering Brighton Marina with way more wind than forecast and only two inches under our keel was distinctly unpleasant. After a month or so of casual progress, we finally needed to buckle down and focus on getting ourselves through the Straits of Dover and up the Thames River to London. The southern coast of England between the Solent and the mouth of the Thames Estuary is known primarily as a coast of passage. The harbors are less frequent and are often shallow, tide-restricted places, making planning more complicated. The common wisdom seemed to be to get a positive current as soon after the Solent as feasible, and ride it as far to the east as you could. With this in mind, we consulted the tidal stream charts and made the jump from Brighton Marina to the extremely busy Port of Dover. From there, it was two short but foggy days to Queenborough in the Medway River, just south of the mouth of the Thames.
Low tide on the Yealm River, Devon.
The river and village of Fowey, South Cornwall.
The River Dart and Dartmouth Castle, Dartmouth, Devon.
From Queenborough, London was only 40 miles away. We had just one short day (with the tide helping) to the trip’s conclusion and our winter berth at Limehouse Marina. It was not, however, just any old day trip. It was a trip up the legendary Thames River. We had consulted a variety of locals about it and found that most of them had never done it. That being the case, we read what we could find, tracked down any guides we could, and hoped for the best. Close attention needed to be paid to traffic and tide. An entity called Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) manages the traffic side of the equation and no one controls the tide. You just work with it. We had planned this run up the river weeks before and picked a day when the rising tide began early in the morning, which would allow us to reach London and the locks into the Limehouse Marina by early afternoon. With the Sound Signals on the Thames list taped up in the cockpit, the VHF tuned to the VTS working channel, and the Tidal Thames: Recreational Users’ Guide close at hand, we dropped our mooring in Queenborough and headed out.
The White Horse, a favorite haunt of English Channel swimmers, Dover. issue 62 2020
The very well marked Thames Barrier.
The fog of previous days had disappeared, and we were able to see all the activity of the Thames quite clearly. From the ships steaming past to the tugs and barges going about their daily endeavors, we were really impressed by the amount of activity Shango at Limehouse Marina.
on the river. We passed delightfully named Hole Haven, Blyth Sands, and Mucking Flats, and then came upon the dreaded Port of Tilbury. Here there was a blind corner in the river and just around it, a huge lock for commercial craft, along with many berths for container ships. Over the next 40 minutes, VTS instructed us to cross and re-cross the river, dodging two 700-foot vessels and a very impatient barge called Discoverer. Finally, after an OK from VTS, we were able to cross the river for the third and last time as we watched the maneuvering behemoths behind us recede into the distance. After the chaos of Tilbury Docks, our journey returned to relative calm. We went under the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge and through a succession of reaches: Long, Erith, Halfway, and Barking. We then entered the Thames Barrier Control Zone. Negotiating the Thames Barrier turned out to be quite painless. We made a radio call to VTS and were given the go-ahead to proceed. “Shango, please pass through span foxtrot.” With giant green arrows pointing to the barrier opening labeled “F,” we were hard-pressed to go wrong. Another hurdle overcome. From the barrier, it was only a few miles to the lock at Limehouse Marina. This stretch of the Thames was alive with all manner of boats, the most notable being the Thames clippers. These jet-propelled passenger ferries, 16 in total, travel at speeds of over 25 knots. Slower, but no less threatening, were the numerous barges and tugs with tows. Careening through this turmoil were tourist-filled speed boats, whose apparent goal was to scare the living daylights out of their strapped-in paying customers. It was quite a scene, all arrayed on the heaving, current-heavy Thames. We radioed the Limehouse lock for the second and final time as we made our approach. “Shango, please stem the tide while we open the pedestrian foot bridge. Then you may head into the lock.” “Understood,” we answered as
gracefully as possible as we managed to stem the current and avoid being sideswiped by a giant inflatable called the Thames Rocket. Finally, the lock’s signal lights turned green, and we gratefully made our way into the lock. We watched as the gates closed behind us, shutting out the roar of the river’s traffic. In front of us, inside the basin, was peace and calm and a delightful sight of some 50 docked narrow canal boats of all colors, sizes, and designs. We had made it to London.
Shango at Limehouse Marina.
We had arrived in England, our impromptu destination, with a handful of suggestions from English sailors back in the Azores. What we found was a coast laden with history and tradition, scenic beauty, and engaging locals. It is neither an undiscovered gem nor a rugged wilderness, but its lovely nooks and crannies reminded us how much fun it is to just mess about in a boat. ✧
ABOUT THE AUTHORS Amy Jordan and Roger Block live in Newburyport, Massachusetts. They are pictured here at the Caldeira do Faial on the island of Faial in the Azores. The couple own Shango, a Pacific Seacraft 40, on which they completed a five-year circumnavigation in 2015. During the last few seasons they have sailed somewhat more locally with time spent in the Bahamas, Jamaica, Panama, and Colombia. This season found the pair heading east with stops in Bermuda, the Azores, and England, the account of which is covered in this article. Next year’s destination remains a mystery.
issue 62 2020
Lessons from Cruising
by Behan and Jamie Gifford, Pacific Northwest Station
dventure. Exotic destinations. Freedom. Challenge. We all get hooked on cruising for different reasons—reasons that may not match our initial vision. Ours, like many people’s, have shifted over
time. Upon departure from Bainbridge Island in 2008, for example, we didn’t anticipate how unforgettable encounters with our fellow humans would impact us. They are the leading source of learning, joy, and fulfilment in our cruising lifestyle. In a tapestry of stories richer than we ever imagined weaving, a few stand out. 148
Siobhan (left) and Mairen (right) contemplate the sunset from Totem’s bow, anchored in the flowing current of a Bornean river.
Before we reached Pemangkat, we were inadvertently misdirected up another muddy river to another small town; looking for a place to land, and wearing our “greet the officials” tropical best. Left to right: Siobhan, Mairen, and Niall. Kalimantan Barat, Indonesia, 2013.
Captain Budi: doing the right thing We met Budi Wiratno while anchored in a muddy river on the western shore of Borneo. A career Navy man, he stood in a runabout, his close-cropped hair and impressive uniform blazing under Indonesia’s equatorial sun, as one of his sailors held Totem’s gunwales to stay alongside in the swiftly flowing current. Indonesia is filled with people in uniform: government employees, police, and military everywhere. Six months into our
stay, we were inured to this omnipresent officialdom. This was our final destination in the country, and we were on a goose chase to find the right offices in the right town to complete outward clearance. Hampered by out-of-date guides, a flummoxed agent, and inaccurate charts, we had hours left on our visas to find what was beginning to feel like the fabled port captain in the backwater of Pemangkat. As if on cue, a small speedboat filled with uniformed men approached. In this modest Navy boat was Budi Wiratno, captain and first-rate human. issue 62 2020
Kapten Budi smiles between Niall and Mairen as we gather with his crew in Totem’s cockpit; Siobhan and Behan to the right. Pemangkat, Kalimantan Barat, Indonesia, 2013.
After a few minutes, Budi understood what we wanted to do. The officials were five miles upriver, and because Totem’s draft was preventing progress, he offered a ride. Jamie and the kids remained aboard while I rocketed away in the smaller vessel. Unknown to us at the time, it was a government holiday and offices were closed. Budi made a few phone calls, and staff started to arrive: the forms, signatures, and stamps of bureaucracy went surprisingly fast. The only hiccups were a power outage that prevented photocopying forms, and a port official who insisted on a fee not listed in the official schedule. It was exorbitant by local living standards, presumably for after-hours service. Captain Budi held the port captain in his gaze and said in a slow, deliberate voice, “Kantor kami selalu terbuka.” (“Our office is always open.”) Awkward at the loss of his presumed co-conspirator, the port captain dropped the fee. It was dark by the time we got back to Totem. We invited our Navy friends to return for breakfast aboard the following morning, and I got up early to bake cinnamon rolls in anticipation of their arrival. When the runabout bumped up to Totem’s hull, the crew began transferring burlap sacks to our side deck—eight in total. Puzzled, we asked, “Apa ini?” (“What’s this?”) I was pretty sure we weren’t being asked to carry anything to our next port in Malaysia for them! In fact, 150
Budi had thought that we couldn’t possibly have enough food onboard, so he went shopping. They delivered 50 pounds of beautiful fresh fruit and vegetables, then flagged down a passing
Mairen’s face says it all: We were stunned at the bounty brought aboard by Kapten Budi. This isn’t even all of it!
Wendy trims peelings off yams in Totem’s salon while another visitor looks on—then proudly presents the final product, which we all immediately consumed! Panapompom, Papua New Guinea, 2012.
fisherman to add some of his catch to the bounty. Refusing compensation, Kapten Budi explained the kindness: “We are all brothers of the sea.”
Sister Wendy: lessons in culture and humility Trading culture looms in the dreams of hopeful cruisers, but has largely faded from our increasingly connected world. A notable exception are the islands of Papua New Guinea, where bartering is an essential method for islanders to acquire goods. In most of the Louisiade archipelago, there are almost no stores, and no ready transportation to those few that do exist. It is a largely cashless economy, where needs are met by foraging, growing, making, and trading. We loaded Totem with trade goods before departing Australia and enjoyed the process of bartering in the islands. Eventually, though, we reached a saturation point with what we could get for our trades. The narrow selection of foraged, grown, and made items wears thin. We had no interest in the 45th lime, the 253rd banana, or another pandanus bag, yet
islanders needed the things they could get from us. Anchored off Panapompom, with a steady stream of dugouts coming to trade, we began an adventure in trading goods for islanders’ knowledge. The first was Wendy, who gave us cooking lessons in exchange for quantities of flour and sugar. Yams and coconut are diet staples; we traded for many, but my first attempts at preparing them weren’t very palatable. Wendy taught me to turn island-grown tubers into the fluffy, delicious mainstay that every other child seems to have in a grubby hand or stuffed in a cheek to chatter around. But what I learned from Wendy was so much more than a recipe. She showed me I’d been traded seed yams, a sign of scarcity, as each seed yam cost the giver a harvest of many yams after a growing season. Wendy educated us about yam varieties, how garden ownership is managed, and who works them. She showed me how a delicious outcome didn’t depend on having The Right Tools—her broken blade, long since parted from its handle, got the job done better than Totem’s high-carbon steel issue 62 2020
Wendy took a particular shine to Siobhan, and helpfully pointed out which rivers had crocodiles. Panapompom, Papua New Guinea, 2012.
“ Trading for knowledge became a theme in the islands ahead, bringing new friendships and insights into culture.
paring knife. She used seawater instead of adding salt to potable water, which is constrained and only seasonally available from rainwater catchment. The last step was to top yams with fresh coconut cream by squeezing freshly grated coconut in your fist (we employed a colander to catch stray bits). I broke out a can of coconut milk and showed Wendy how we would normally acquire the creamy liquid. She was curious, and our taste test confirmed there’s no comparison to the fresh stuff. And in a flash, embarrassment overcame me. Coconuts litter the ground on Panapompom, but canned goods are only acquired at relatively great expense and by traveling to another island. Wendy just laughed it off, graciously unphased by my exercise in privilege. Trading for knowledge became a theme in the islands ahead, bringing new friendships and insights into culture—all thanks to the afternoon with Wendy and her unexpected bonus lesson in being a gracious host. 152
Machete man: be a good guest, even when it feels awkward Alongside a stretch of white beach in Madagascar, we cautiously nosed Totem toward what appeared to be a comfortable anchoring spot. We were conditioned to be wary of chart accuracy, and this island-off-an-island in a far corner of the Indian Ocean demanded extra vigilance. Humans everywhere appreciate respect and can be rankled by presumption. In island cultures across many regions, we’ve experienced appreciation for the quick, clear acknowledgement that we are guests by seeking permission to secure our floating home in their front yard. Most cruisers encounter this first through the sevu sevu ritual in Fiji, where the act of gaining this permission is culturally codified with the gift of kava root traded for a chief ’s blessing. Dinghying ashore, we were aided in landing by a gaggle of children. Just down the beach, their elders began to gather in the littoral fronting a cluster of thatch homes. I love learning a little of whatever dialect is local to our destinations, but as we approached the group, Jamie reminded me that ndje ndje, the greeting in the Comoros Islands which we had recently departed, probably wasn’t going to fly here. You can fall back on French in Madagascar, and since a dozen or so expressionless villagers seemed to be waiting for us to say something, I shelved my ndje ndje and resorted to French.
Leading with the language of a colonizer is never my first choice, but bonjour seemed to work, as the elder man in the circle responded in French. Eyes downcast, he focused on carving the wooden handle of a very large, very well-used machete with a shard of broken glass. Jamie and I stood in quiet deference at the edge of the circle for the duration of his monologue: absent eye contact, unable to comprehend his somber words, we hoped our demeanor at least imparted the right tone and that there were no intentions to use the machete. Oral tradition is rich in this region; we became intimately familiar with it during a multiday clearance process in the Comoros Islands. The custom is an exchange of orations— when one speech ends, the response begins. Our machete man completed his address, paused in his carving, and looked up expectantly without a smile. Jamie and I offered all we could: “Je ne comprends pas.” (“I don’t understand.”) Meep!
His pause was brief, but felt like forever, and then he burst out in gut-busting laughter. Once sufficiently recovered, he told the gathered group (in an altogether different language) something (we presume) to the effect that “they have no idea what I just said!” Everyone laughed. Now that it seemed we wouldn’t be on the menu, we proceeded to body language, miming, and drawing in the sand to communicate. Our days anchored off this ultimately welcoming place stretched to include hiking cross-island, providing a soccer ball for an inter-village game with visitors who hiked miles from the south end of the island (on foot, as there are no roads), donating gas for the generator to power a boom box, and dancing to that music during the post-soccer-match celebrations—cementing our accepted awkward status as we joined rhythmic bodies swaying on the side of a scruffy field on a tiny island in Madagascar.
Language barriers didn’t stop us from engaging in camaraderie and trade with men from the village where Totem anchored! Nosy Mitsio, Madagascar, 2015.
issue 62 2020
Dramatic and desolate hills, dotted with piney scrub and beautiful baobab trees, dominate Madagascar’s coastline. Nosy Mitsio, Madagascar, 2015.
Alex Rust: living every day to the max Alex Rust was the type of sailor who you hear about long before meeting. When we crossed the Pacific in 2010, stories about the shenanigans of Alex and his ever-changing youthful crew floated around the anchorages of French Polynesia. Did you hear about that guy from the American boat who got kicked out of the Galapagos because he killed and grilled a lizard? Yeah, and I heard that he offed a feral goat in Nuku Hiva to roast at a beach party. These stories seemed too weird to be true. What kind of person sails around the oceans looking to party by killing and eating local fauna? In hindsight, taking the goat was no different from me spearfishing to get fish for a beach barbecue— but at the time it seemed grotesquely indecent. 154
We shared anchorages with him here and there and finally met on a boozy night in Bora Bora when Alex abruptly hoisted Jamie atop a bar stool to better deliver a toast in honor of a friend’s birthday. Alex was real and he liked fun, but he seemed altogether more sedate than the stories about him—that is, until Bastille Day celebrations in Bora Bora. The atmosphere was festive, with a parade followed by traditional dance and competitions. Cruisers were invited to join and our ensemble attended in pirate garb. The role was like a bad cliché, but we gathered with enthusiasm as old pirates, young pirates, many wenches, and even King Neptune. Competition began after the parade, when the president of French Polynesia took his seat in the dignitary section, as far from us pirates as possible.
When we crossed the Pacific in 2010, stories about the shenanigans of Alex and his ever-changing youthful crew floated around the anchorages of French Polynesia.
Games included feats of speed and strength, the two blended in one event where toned Polynesian men raced a course while carrying heavy loads of fruit balanced on a pole across their shoulders. The race had just begun, when out of nowhere appeared a pirate running hard and waving the skull and crossbones flag atop a ten-foot bamboo pole. Spontaneous fits of laughter erupted, and the cringing, howling pirates gasped incredulously, “Oh, Alex!?”
Alex kept pace until he reached the far side of the track, stopping abruptly in front of monsieur le président. Stunned, we thought, “Oh no, what are you doing?” Clearly winded, Alex stepped up to the president’s seat—and pulled out a bottle of rum and a shot glass. As he filled the glass, we pirates felt squeamish and awkward for our association with him, yet the président downed his without hesitation, followed by Alex, as if they were old drinking buddies. With a shoulder clap and a nod, Alex hoisted his pole and finished the race. Tales of adventures streamed in the wake of his boat, Bubbles, until circumnavigation was closed with a tow for the last mile when the prop fell off. Alex wasn’t Bristol fashion, or prudent, and there weren’t any dinner jackets on Bubbles, but his unaffected, wacky manner pushed people together in a genuine and positive way. One year after completing his circumnavigation, Alex was working at an orphanage in India when he succumbed to typhoid, dying at age 28. His journey was the counterpoint to ours in many ways, but we hold fundamentals in common. He brought everyone around him into his enthusiasm for life, and he became a model to live every day to the fullest and keep our eyes open to the people and possibilities around us.
Alex’s boat, Bubbles, flies the Jolly Roger from his mooring at the Bora Bora Yacht Club in 2010. issue 62 2020
Yes, we’ve seen pirates! At least, if you count these boat kids gathered in costume for a cruisers’ float, entered into the 2010 Bastille Day parade in Bora Bora.
Like Bubbles, on Totem we are buoyed by sea and bounded by sky, living simply and transparently in someone else’s space. Exposing ourselves as we do—whether at the mercy of a stranger’s generosity, stumbling around cross-cultural learning, drifting in to anchor by a village, or finding camaraderie among strangers-turned-new-friends—we have been gifted with characters and stories to make a novelist weep, while learning about ourselves and the world. Our family’s journey to cruising is uniquely ours, but our hopes are the same as those we hear from others who strike out toward the blue horizon: To recalibrate lives overfull with things that are urgent, yet unimportant. To slow down years that seem to fly by ever more quickly. To give ourselves the gift of a life we could someday reflect on as well-lived, instead of lined with “wish we’d…” regrets. We’re grateful for the luxury to look back and consider why we went and why we continue. Our journey has always been about the people; it just took a twist away from ourselves along the way to realize it. ✧
About the Authors When Behan and Jamie Gifford sailed south from the Pacific Northwest in 2008, they anticipated cruising for a two- to five-year sabbatical. Life had other plans! Nearly a decade later, they closed the loop on a circumnavigation aboard their Stevens 47, Totem. Their three children—Niall, Mairen, and Siobhan—are growing up afloat, with the first transitioning ashore for college this past year. The Totem family has sailed nearly 100,000 kilometers while visiting 48 countries and territories, from Madagascar to Martinique. They’re currently cruising the Pacific side of Mexico, with plans to return to the South Pacific in the spring. The family—from left to right, Behan, Niall, Mairen, Jamie, and Siobhan—is pictured here on Totem’s bow in Bahia de Banderas, Mexico, in January 2019.
issue 62 2020
The Auckland Islands A Seabird Capital
Subantarctic New Zealand Light-mantled sooty albatross on the wing.
by Vicky and Tom Jackson, Great Lakes Station
here has never been a permanent settlement on the Auckland Islands. Maori and Moriori groups have eked out a life at times, and shipwrecked sailors have survived, some for as long as 20 months. British colonists established the settlement of Hardwicke, which lasted for less than three years. Whalers and sealers took their bounty, and a few optimistic farmers tried and gave up. Castaway rescue missions, World War II coastwatchers, and conservationists came and went. But no one lasted more than a few years; no one became permanent, even given the expansive desires of the 18th- and 19th-century explorers. The archipelago is too wet and windy, the soil is too poor, and perhaps it is just too isolated. This was the destination for our not-so-summery sailing holiday in 2019. Stewart Island, across the windy Foveaux Strait from New Zealand’s South Island and considered by many Kiwis to be the 158
country’s last outpost, was our stepping-off point, although our sailing cruise began in Auckland, on the North Island. We were to sail to New Zealand territory located some 220 nautical miles south of Stewart Island, at 50˚ 30' S. Even then we were not going to the farthest outpost. Campbell Island, at 52˚ 30' S and 320 nautical miles from Stewart Island, is the last speck of New Zealand territory in the Southern Ocean. Before our sail across that boisterous stretch of ocean, Oban, the capital of Stewart Island (population: around 400), provided us with a few comforts: first, the Four Square supermarket to buy some fresher fruits and veggies, an additional packet of ginger nuts, a few more bars of dark chocolate, and packets of instant soup; second, the South Sea Hotel, the local pub, to drink tap beer, watch some rugby, and have our fill of blue cod, chips, and salad.
Our Auckland friend, Charles Bradfield, had been keen to visit the Auckland Islands in his yacht, Vingilot, a Cavalier 45. We had also hoped to visit these remote islands, but the stringent requirements of the Department of Conservation (DOC) meant that teaming up on a larger yacht with room for five or six crew would work much better. As a result, we were on board Vingilot rather than Sunstone. There also was no denying that in our older age and increasingly sybaritic ways, we were attracted to more yachting comforts, such as ducted heating throughout the boat, a very protected cockpit, hot
water, a shower, a freezer, and a fridge. The adventure had been in the planning for two years. Prior to our visit, Charles worked with DOC to seek permission, with two yacht inspections and many forms to complete. There was also a requirement that at least one, preferably two, crew remain on the yacht at all times. Shore visits would be in rotation. The Auckland Islands are part of New Zealandâ€™s subantarctic islands, along with the Snares, Bounty, Antipodes, and Campbell islands. Hosting over 40 breeding seabird issue 62 ď‚˛ 2020
Dancing kelp, northern shore of Enderby Island.
species that comprise around 11 percent of the world’s seabird population, these subantarctic islands have been called a “seabird capital.” The flora is unique and diverse. Over 35 plants are endemic to the region, and several are found on only one island group. This could hardly be a better draw for us—rarely visited, thousands of seabirds, unique flora, and remote. Long ago, we had learnt that to take in all those qualities, you may have to suffer some cold, wet, windy, and harsh sea conditions. We were not put off. Nor were our companions on board: Charles Bradfield (skipper), Kevin Beaumont (crew), and Simon Mitchell (previous visitor to the Auckland Islands as DOC volunteer
and wreck diver). After a final inspection by a DOC employee at Bluff on the southern tip of the South Island, we set sail on the Southern Ocean on February 24, 2019, at 1510, destination Enderby Island, the northern island of the Auckland Islands group, situated at 166˚ 20' E, 50˚ 30' S. The start was a benign close reach in a 12–18-knot westerly. At 1750, Vicky heard something on the VHF that was perfectly normal but thought-provoking: “Sea area Puysegur; storm warning, northwest 50–55 knots, high seas....” Puysegur, the southwest headland on the South Island, records a gale or storm warning 100 days a year. We rechecked the weather models and pressed on. Further south, we should not have more than 40 knots.
Ready for the Enderby Island circuit walk, starting in Sandy Bay: left to right—Vicky Jackson, Tom Jackson, and Simon Mitchell.
Twisted rata forest, Auckland Island.
so comfortable to experience. Albatross became our constant neighbours, flying alongside Vingilot, swooping, soaring, and gliding. The anchor rumbled out on a calm, sunny morning in Sandy Bay, which lived up to its name. Ashore, three small buildings stood out—man-made features in an otherwise pristine environment. Through binoculars, we spied three figures making their way down to the beach. We had been told that there might be DOC staff living in these huts over the summer months. In the calm conditions, Charles took the opportunity for a quick shore visit with Simon and Kevin. Two hours later, we were told stories of tea and scones and of a program of sea lion population assessment by Andrew, Aditi, and Helena. The Sandy Bay anchorage is well protected from the north, but a strong southwesterly was on its way. We stayed only three hours. The first night’s anchorage was spent in Erebus Cove, on the western side of Port Ross.
In the end, we saw no more than 35 knots; a wet, bouncy 60-degree reach, with the wind abating before heading. It was not the weather that was the most challenging, however; it was seeing the targets on the AIS. One night, we had to weave our way through a line of 12 large Russian trawlers, each 80–100 meters long. These are productive fishing grounds. The welcome at the eastern tip of Enderby Island, after 270 nautical miles and 42 hours, was a sign of the days ahead. As the waters grew shallow, the waves rose. The breaking crests of the overfalls were photogenic and exhilarating to watch, but not
According to the UNESCO World Heritage Area nomination for 1997, “[t]here are days when these islands are enveloped in an unsurpassed bleakness and days of bright-blue clarity, when they are the most invigorating and wild places on earth.” But the descriptions of the weather from sailors, settlers, and conservationists provide a dismal picture of these specks in the Southern Ocean: “… strong gales ... gales with hail ... strong gales and rain, hail and snow.” “At least the winters were relatively mild, but autumns and springs were filled with rain and gusty, cold winds. Hail in the summer was commonplace. Rare fine days—or even a few hours—were well appreciated.”
Megaherbs growing on Enderby Island.
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That evening, we celebrated our arrival at Auckland Island, taking in a view that all those before us had described so vividly: sheets of rain; gray, scudding clouds; white water just visible across the bay in the full force of the southwesterly gale; and cold. But with the heating on, a glass in hand, and food in the oven, we felt far more privileged than those early shipwrecked sailors, failing settlers, castaways, and more recently, DOC staff. On the second day of our stay, it was cool, showery, and windy, with more rain later in the day. Vicky, Tom, and Simon donned layers of merino and Gore-Tex rainwear, with hats and gloves to provide some protection, at least for the first couple of hours. Joined by DOC researcher Andrew, we tackled the six-mile circuit of Enderby Island. Aditi had suggested that we allow six to seven hours; the tramping, in some sections, is through thigh-high, spiky tussock grass, and low-growth, unyielding hebe bushes. Returning after five hours, we were wet, cold, challenged, but rewarded. The seashores provided interest throughout: dramatic cliffs and caves, tiered platforms with columnar boulders and stones, rock pools, sandy coves, and beaches, golden and black. The surf and swells pounded the northern cliffs with a near-gale northwesterly wind. The huge beds of kelp were mesmerizing. The forest strands danced—curling, twirling, twisting, jumping— in an ever-changing pattern of movement, color, and texture as the ocean washed over the leathery, brown tentacles. Blue, turquoise, and white water washed over the dancing forest, as breakers sped in and the undercurrents pulled out. Much of the vegetation is endemic to these subantarctic islands. The leaves, stems, flowers, and their names were new to
us. We had never heard the term “megaherbs.” This is a group of herbaceous perennial wildflowers that flourish on all the island groups. Mega, meaning large, they have evolved to adapt to the harsh weather conditions and reduced sunlight. We were past high summer and into early autumn, so the colors on all the plants had faded. With low light, however, the last of the colors were more obvious on the blooms and the leaves. This was also true of the rata forests, which line much of the coast of the islands with an entangled maze of low-growth trees. Currency is not often associated with researching the flora and fauna of far-off destinations. The New Zealand five-dollar note, however, features a scene from Campbell Island, just like one we saw on Enderby: Bulbinella rossii, a yellow Ross lily, and purple daisies (both megaherbs), along with a curious hoiho, a yellow-eyed penguin. The yellow-eyed penguins are shy. We spied some hiding or sheltering under heavy undergrowth, or poking their beaks out from behind rocks. More obvious are the sometimes boisterous and inquisitive New Zealand sea lions, present on just about all the beaches, coves, rocky foreshores, and grassy swards on Enderby Island. In one encounter, a determined female sea lion followed us for more than a kilometer. “Followed” is perhaps an understatement; it felt more like a chase. Andrew had suggested that a tramping stick was useful, not just for the knees and balance, but to fend off inquisitive sea lions. A gentle tap on the nose or whiskers is supposed to send them away. Along with the sea creatures, birdwatching attracts visitors to these remote islands. Land birds abound. We saw banded dotterel, tomtits, and pipits, and brightly marked red-crowned
“ In one encounter, a
determined female sea lion followed us for more than a kilometer. ‘Followed’ is perhaps an understatement;
it felt more like a chase.
Sea lions fighting and lying around.
Royal albatross on Enderby Island.
parakeets. Sea birds are even more numerous: shags, terns, prions, petrels, and for us, the most majestic of them all, the albatross. We have been fortunate to see these giants in many places while sailing, most often on the wing or floating. The Auckland Islands were the pinnacle of all our sightings, with varied species flying and nesting. We could hardly miss the southern royal albatross, sitting on “nests” of a few, loose branches that dotted the flat, moor-like plateau, just above the low vegetation. We also saw white-capped mollymawks and Gibson’s wandering albatross.
Sooty chicks on ledge.
Mother and chick, royal albatross.
The elegant light-mantled sooty albatross was a species that we watched for hours. We spied an adult sooty on the northern cliffs. As we watched, three gray rocks morphed into three fluffy, gray chicks. It was delightful to watch the caring parent and now-larger youngsters, perched dramatically on a tiny ledge, 30 meters above the foaming Southern Ocean. If a chick fell, that could be the end. They had probably been born in December to two families. They would not be fully fledged for a couple of months, in May. With one or two eggs every second year, the parents could have a long wait for another.
Small land pipit. issue 62 2020
Carnley Harbour, Auckland Island.
Watching the mothering behaviour of the southern royal albatross was special. Albatross are monogamous, with both parents taking turns at incubation and feeding. We saw royals at the incubation stage, nestling the one large, white egg neatly under their body among warm, soft feathers, while avoiding their large feet. Feeding is by regurgitation. Taking turns, one parent flies out over the ocean, catching and eating fish. On return, this parent will sit near or almost on top of the tiny, squeaking, white-and-gray downy bundle. Chick and parent beaks come together in a gentle, nurturing touch. The eager youngster pushes its small beak deep into the throat of its parent to reach the fishy “baby food.” It is easy to be anthropomorphic in these wildlife moments, but the caring, gentle nurturing was obvious. We felt hugely privileged as we watched these interactions in the wild splendour of Enderby Island. Another day of exploration in settled weather took us back to Erebus Cove. From the anchorage, we spied some structures: clearly a place for further investigation. Landing the inflatable on the stony beach, we found a boatshed and the collapsed 164
remains of a castaway depot. An obvious track led inland, through twisted trunks of southern rata and olearia, with tomtits perched on branches. A track must lead somewhere, or so we surmised, and in any event, the birds, trees, and plants were interesting. After only 15 minutes, the track came to an abrupt end at the Hardwicke Cemetery, well-tended by DOC and free from infiltration by the forest and undergrowth. The Hardwicke settlement, named after the Earl of Hardwicke, the governor of the settlers’ whaling company, Samuel Enderby & Sons, has now returned to nature, with no trace of the 30 houses constructed in 1860 to house the English colonists, who had traveled halfway around the globe to make a “new” life on Auckland Island. For many reasons, these settlers lasted only two years and nine months. The hardships were immense, the soil infertile, whales only appeared in very small numbers, and the rain, low clouds, wind, and dampness were incessant. The population peaked at 300. There were five weddings and 16 births. There were also deaths. One of the headstones provided a poignant reminder of all their
struggles: “Isabel Younger, died aged three months, in 1850.” Paying respect to these hardy souls, we studied all the inscriptions on the six headstones. Some were of later deaths from shipwrecked mariners. Of the three main islands in the Auckland group, the southern Adams Island is separated from Auckland Island at both the eastern and western ends, though the latter channel is only 100 meters wide with strong currents. In the middle sections, Carnley Harbour is expansive. For the early explorers, whalers, and sealers, it provided some shelter from ocean swells. As a sheltered anchorage, however, for those sailing in the 19th and 20th centuries and for us in the 21st century, it proved to be more myth than reality. “This is Champagne sailing in the Southern Ocean!” Charles’ voice rang out as we close-reached down the east coast of Auckland Island toward Carnley Harbour in sunshine and a 15-knot westerly. Vingilot was kicking her heels, and the crew were in high spirits. We dipped into Waterfall Bay to check the harbor as a potential anchorage. It seemed protected, although with some kelp, and it was a pretty spot. We would not be able
to go ashore, as this harbor is not on the DOC approved list. We sailed on, past Archer Rock, around Cape Bennett, toward the southernmost tip of Adams Island, Gilroy Head. At 1630, we approached the eastern entrance to Carnley Harbour. The genoa was furled and we motor-sailed around Cape Farr. Then the wind hit. The narrow funnel into Carnley Harbour was a mass of white water, with short, steep waves. The only expected element was that the wind was from the west, but it wasn’t the 15 knots we had outside. We were struggling, beating into 45–55 knots with the main, assisted by engine. Progress was slow as we closed the gray, volcanic cliffs on each shore before tacking and crawling into the more open section of the harbor. The lay of the land creates katabatic winds, with rachas (gusts) accelerating off the higher hills, even when conditions on the open ocean are much calmer. The crew were quiet, deep in our own thoughts about the next few hours. Spray showered the decks, the wind howled, williwaws hit with force, blue and white mixed on the water and in the air, and the rig shook. Tom and I thought about how
Fifty knots sailing out of Carnley Harbour: left to right— Tom Jackson, Kevin Beaumont, and Charles Bradfield.
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this would have been on board Sunstone. Here we were sheltered within an “igloo” cockpit enclosure and not getting soaked with every wave, although Vicky, in natural anticipation, turned her head away from big gusts and ducked when a wave hit. Reactions die hard after 38 years! We all wondered whether we would find shelter at Camp Cove, our intended anchorage, or whether we would have to abort and head back to Waterfall Bay or even farther north. The Grafton experienced even worse in January 1864. Anchored in Carnley Harbour, the schooner was slammed by hurricane-force winds. The anchors dragged, and she was washed ashore, onto the rocks. The five crew members struggled ashore. Many books have been written about, and by, shipwrecked survivors. The stories of the Grafton and the Invercauld, also wrecked in 1864 on Auckland Island, should be required survival reading. Two shipwrecks and two sets of survivors, one in Carnley Harbour, the other in Port Ross, but neither ever knew of the other’s fate. One group’s decisions, actions, and cooperation were of the highest standard; the other’s decision-making was poor, and there was enmity, contempt, and questioning of
the hierarchy. The two accounts highlight the importance of working together, leadership, ingenuity, perseverance, mental strength, foresight, and hope. Camp Cove provided the shelter we’d hoped for. As we pressed on into the more open stretches of Carnley Harbour, the wind slowly decreased to 15 knots. As we finally set the anchor in a small circular bay in a five-to-ten-knot westerly, with the occasional gust down the valley, the water was flat. The crew started communicating again, discussing the strong winds and thoughts for the next day. We enjoyed the solitary, if gray, dampness of our harbor on Auckland Island and the warmth around the saloon table. The sail out of Carnley was a repeat of the horrendous conditions, except this time the wind was from behind and lasted some way up the east coast. The low clouds, steep cliffs, spray, and spume gave a picture in black and white, although the sun later peeped through the clouds. There were some struggles in the 45–50-knot winds, with waves washing over Vingilot. The less experienced sailors saw the white spume, the water smoking with rachas on a sun-drenched cobalt ocean, with a bright rainbow growing out of the steep volcanic cliffs, as beautiful and photogenic. The more seasoned crew were more focused on the rig, the steering, the next sheltered anchorage, and the impending northwest gale, due later in the afternoon. It seemed almost familiar as we anchored again in Sandy Bay in limited visibility. The wind was up, the gray was down, but the anchor was well set in the sand. We stayed below for the next 24 hours. We were sailing on a different yacht and with crew. These were fundamental changes for the “Sunstoners.” Vingilot is a far more complex yacht than Sunstone, with a freezer, autopilot, genset, shower, satellite phone, and computer navigation. These additions certainly provided more comfort, but also more to go wrong, more time spent in maintenance, checking, and cleaning, and a need to carry more spares. Sailing with more than two people gives more time for conversation, less for personal contemplation. One distinct upside is getting more sleep. Meal preparation takes longer, but sitting together over a meal, reliving challenging experiences, is another positive feature. “How long were you there?” A question we were frequently asked on our return to Auckland City after circumnavigating New Zealand, sailing 3,066 miles over 41 days. The answer was, “In the Auckland Islands, seven days with three shore trips.”
Hardwicke Cemetery headstone, Erebus Cove.
“That was a long way to go for a short time; was it worth it?” It was a long, cold, windy way to go, but yes, it was worth it, it was really worth it. It was amazing to see such wild, remote beauty, and feel so close to nature. The best memories are made from hardship and some risk. ✧
Vingilot, a Cavalier 45, at anchor in Erebus Cove.
About the Authors Tom was born in Germany, but grew up in New York. He began sailing at an early age in Rhode Island and taught sailing while in college. After service as a U.S. Navy officer, he attended Cambridge University in England, where he began offshore sailing and met Vicky through racing with her father. Vicky was born in Australia to British parents and grew up in England. She also grew up sailing in family boats and sailed her first offshore race at 16. She and Tom became engaged during a cruise from Spain to England in her parents’ boat. They were married in 1972. In 1978, the couple began living aboard, initially on a 31-foot Kim Holman design and then, from 1981, aboard Sunstone, their 1965, bright-finished, S&S 39-foot sloop. They lived afloat continuously until 2013. Despite being a “houseboat,” Sunstone proved very competitive racing offshore under all rating rules, even against much more modern competition. She won the 1985 Channel Race overall and her class in four of the eight Fastnet races, which she completed with Tom and Vicky on board. She was twice part of the English team in the RORC Commodores’ Cup, which won this international event in 1996. In 1997, Tom took early retirement as principal of Portsmouth College, and Vicky as assistant dean of faculty at Southampton Solent University. Two weeks later, they sailed away to begin 150,000 miles of world cruising. They have crossed the Atlantic twice and the Pacific Ocean six times, five of those between New Zealand and Alaska. Their six-year circumnavigation was eastward, taking in the five great southern capes, but also reaching 61˚ north and 57˚ south. While cruising, they have continued to race, competing in the Newport Bermuda race and winning their divisions in the Sydney-Hobart and Swiftsure. Since moving to New Zealand in 2007, they have won the Two-Handed Round North Island Race and completed the Two-Handed Round New Zealand Race. They now live in Nelson, in the South Island of New Zealand, with Sunstone berthed at the local marina. They have been regular contributors of articles and photographs to yachting magazines.
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Transatlantic via the Northern Route by Kristina Thyrre and Atle Moe Florida Station 168
“After a little over two days at sea, it was “land-ho,” the green cliffs of the Faroe Islands ahead.
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fter five seasons of cruising northern Europe, from Bordeaux, France, in the south, to Tromsø, Norway, in the north, we decided to take our Nordhavn 57, Summer Star, back to the United States. Since we have a proclivity to cruise in cooler climates during the summers, it seemed perfect to take the scenic route home, starting in Norway, then to the Shetland Islands, Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and a long stop in Maine before continuing down the East Coast to our home port of St. Petersburg, Florida. In 2018–2019, Summer Star had wintered in a heated shed in Stathelle, Norway, so when we arrived in the spring, she was fresh and ready to go. We love the whole heated shed idea when leaving the boat up north, and so does Summer Star! On June 13, after getting final clearance from the insurance company and buying immersion survival suits, we set the course south and were on our way. The first stop was the small maritime town of Grimstad, Norway, home to a museum dedicated to the Norwegian author Henrik Ibsen. We spent a couple of enjoyable days getting into “cruising mode,” provisioning, hiking, and waiting for a nice weather window to go around the notorious southern tip of Norway. Egersund, our final port in Norway, is best known to cruisers as a place to fuel up and wait for passage weather westward, toward the Shetland Islands and the Faroe Islands. 170
Docked in the Faroe Islands.
The docks are well protected from any weather. A major fishing port, Egersund guarantees fresh diesel—by fueling the massive fishing vessels coming and going 24 hours a day, it goes through a few thousand gallons a day. A gorgeous weather window opened up, and we left Norway June 19. It was a sad moment for us when the Norwegian courtesy flag came down for the last time, because it meant the end to our five-year cruising adventure in northern Europe. The original plan was to stop in the Shetlands and then continue on to the Faroes, but the weather was so settled and nice that we decided to cruise straight to the Faroe Islands. After a little over two days at sea, it was “land-ho,” the green cliffs of the Faroe Islands ahead. The docks were quite full when we arrived, but we were able to snag a pontoon right next to the old
“Iceland gets most of its power and heat
from the volcanic activity under the Earth’s crust, and all around the country are swimming pools and lagoons warmed by this geothermal heat.
Above: Cruising northern Iceland. Right: Typical fishing boat in eastern Iceland.
town, the seat of the Faroese government. It was an idyllic spot, surrounded by red buildings with grass roofs. The Faroe Islands are a self-governing region of Denmark, located about halfway between Scotland and Iceland. They have their own flag, their own parliament, their own language, and their own money. Many moons ago, they were part of Norway, which Atle was quick to point out to any Faroese we met. The islands are smack in the middle of the North Atlantic Drift (the Gulf Stream), giving them a moderate temperature year-round. The main industry is fishing and fish farming. Ninety-five percent of the exports from the Faroes are fish and fish products (47 percent frozen fish, 36 percent chilled fish, 7 percent dried fish, and 5 percent salted fish, according to Trading Economics’ global markets website). The Faroes were originally populated by Norwegian Vikings. King Olav II, one of the most prominent kings in Norway’s history, is best known for bringing Christianity to Norway and was sainted for his deeds in 1164. He died during the Battle of Stiklestad on July 29, 1030, and the Faroe Islands have taken this day as their national holiday. Nobody we spoke with seemed to know exactly why this saint or this date were chosen, but so it is.
There is a huge festival each year on St. Olav’s Day, and as part of the celebration, the biggest rowing competition of the year takes place in Tórshavn harbor, along the commercial wharf, for a distance of 1,000 meters. Rowing is a super-popular sport on the island, and every day we would see rowing crews practicing near our boat. They were of all ages and consisted of both men and women. It was great fun to watch! To see more local attractions, we rented a car. The nature is spectacular, the roads are steep, the landscape is dotted with waterfalls, and the ocean is almost always in sight. In fact, there is no place in the Faroe Islands that is more than three miles from the coast. And there are sheep everywhere. The total human population of the Faroes is 50,000. The total sheep population is 70,000. At 4 a.m. on June 28, we departed the Faroes. We left early to take advantage of the strong currents that weave around the islands. The weather forecast was not ideal (Force 5–6, all afore the beam), but it was better than the weather that was coming, so we took it. After 36 hours, we arrived in Iceland at the east coast fjord town of Seyðisfjörður. It was a good run, but the boat was coated in salt. The next morning, we woke up to fresh snow in the mountains surrounding us—beautiful and not something you see everywhere in the Northern Hemisphere on June 30. But it did explain why there were so many waterfalls surrounding us. issue 62 2020
In Iceland we were docked at a commercial fishing dock in Seyðisfjörður and enjoyed seeing the local fishing boats deliver their catch on a daily basis. As a rule, the fish is shipped out the same day and is very likely to be served at a table in Tokyo or New York the following day. The fishing boats from this harbor are not large, but they are seaworthy, and the fishermen are tough. The people in Iceland are very friendly and more than happy to offer sightseeing advice. The harbormaster, Rune, was a delight, and even though he had his hands full between the cruise ships and the ferry to the Faroe Islands and Denmark, he had time to stop by to chat and give us the “must see” list for the area. We rented a car for a couple of days to explore the eastern side of Iceland. We were blessed with gorgeous weather. The Vikings brought sheep with them when they populated Iceland, and the sheep have made themselves quite at home since then. It was lambing season, and we learned to be careful because if we saw a ewe crossing the road, two lambs were sure to follow. It was also puffin nesting time. Puffins nest in burrows, and it is important not to walk over the burrows and collapse them. We were told of a viewing area in the northeast corner of Iceland, where there was a boardwalk and very few visitors. We couldn’t pass this up. We have never seen so many puffins in one place. It was an amazing experience. We even saw a puffin chick, poking its head out of a burrow. The puffin chicks and their parents needed to be alert, since the many kittiwakes in the area were waiting to pounce. We left Seyðisfjörður July 8 and headed to Húsavík, the whale-watching capital of Iceland and maybe all of Europe. Located on the northern coast of Iceland at 66˚ north, Húsavík is just below the Arctic Circle. Along the way, we were accompanied by fulmars, puffins, whales, and dolphins. 172
We love docking in working harbors because it allows us to meet the locals and experience the way they live and work. This is a good thing, since pleasure marinas are, as a rule, not to be found in these areas. The typical dockage in Iceland for our size boat is at a commercial dock, surrounded by fishing boats, pilot boats, cruise ships, and whale-watching boats. The harbormasters in the various harbors are super-friendly and always find space for us along the docks, as well as arrange for shore power and water. We again rented a car for a couple of days to explore the area around Húsavík. One of the places high on our list was Mývatn, which sits on the gap between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. The Námafjall Geothermal Area in Mývatn has a volcanic landscape with hot steam, patches of mud bubbling up in a seriously creepy manner, hard lava formations with sulphuric fumes billowing out, and narrow paths between it all. It’s quite amazing to see the colors of the various bubbling pools and hear the hissing from the escaping hot gases. Iceland gets most of its power and heat from the volcanic activity under the Earth’s crust, and all around the country are swimming pools and lagoons warmed by this geothermal heat. Mývatn featured our favorite geothermal lagoon. The water was very warm, milky blue in color, and had a wonderful softening effect on the skin. The view, looking down onto the lake and more steaming vents, was wonderful. And best of all, it was not crowded.
“The typical dockage in Iceland for our size boat
is at a commercial dock, surrounded by fishing boats, pilot boats, cruise ships, and whale-watching boats.
Docked in Húsavík.
Dettifoss waterfall, at 340 feet wide and 150 feet tall, is the most powerful waterfall in all of Europe. In addition to this stop on our must-see list, we visited several other large waterfalls in the Dettifoss area, as well as a beautiful horseshoe valley that was perfect for hiking. On July 14, we left the north coast of Iceland on Summer Star and continued along the west fjords to the town of Ísafjörður, a jump-off point for voyagers heading to Greenland and points westward. The Ísafjörður docks are filled with boats waiting for the ice to clear and the weather to behave. We met cruisers here from all over the world—Australia, Scotland, a gentleman from Northern Ireland (who, as it turned out, knew a friend of ours from Norway—small world), New Zealand, United States, Iceland, and Germany. We shared lots of laughs and invaluable cruising information. While in Ísafjörður, we rented another car. The weather was glorious and the scenery stunning. We had fun exploring small villages, seeing seals sunning themselves along the shore, and visiting the Arctic Fox Center, where a small, incredibly cute, orphaned baby fox had just arrived. Our plan was to go nonstop from Iceland to the southern part of Greenland, a three-and-a-half-day trip on our boat, then
continue nonstop from Greenland to Canada. Atle, who grew up in a Norwegian fishing and hunting family, has heard stories about east Greenland weather since he was a little boy, and how it can change from calm to nasty seas in no time. That, and the added challenge of ice and fog, made us want another set of eyes aboard, preferably one with lots of boating experience. Luckily for us, our friend and professional yacht captain from our hometown of St. Petersburg, Jim Mobley, was able to join us in Ísafjörður. We were all fueled up, waiting for a good weather window and the go-ahead to leave for Greenland, when Jim flew in on the evening of July 24. After meeting with our local weather and ice router, Maik Brötzmann, we decided to leave on July 25—as soon as Jim arrived, because some really ugly weather was forecast to come up during the following weeks. The weather between Iceland and Greenland was windy, foggy, and rainy, but the heavy seas were coming from astern and the boat handled them well. It was such luxury to be snugged into a nice warm pilot house! Eighty-two hours later, off the southern coast of Greenland, we saw our first iceberg. In another ten hours, we were anchored in a beautiful cove in Prince Christian Sound, a protected fjord system that bisects the issue 62 2020
“ The bergy bits tend to float just at the surface and are hard to spot. The FLIR infrared camera was invaluable for spotting the ice.
Above: Icebergs in Greenland. Right: Curing a polar bear hide in Greenland.
southern part of Greenland. Summer is considered the low-ice season, and in the winter, spring, and early summer, Prince Christian Sound is impassable because of the ice. There is floating ice everywhere in Greenland and the clicking sound of ice is a constant. The bigger icebergs are easy to see, both with the naked eye and on the radar. The pieces you have to worry about are the growlers, flat-topped and bus- or car-sized, and bergy bits. The bergy bits tend to float just at the surface and are hard to spot. The FLIR infrared camera was invaluable for spotting the ice. We were lucky to see an iceberg “calving” as we passed it, and also saw icebergs turn upside down without any warning signs. Both good reasons to keep your distance from the larger icebergs. We moved to the village of Aappilattoq, located in the middle of Prince Christian Sound. There wasn’t any space for us to dock, so we anchored and used a shoreline on our stern to keep from swinging. During the night, we found out why one must be alert when cruising in Greenland. The weather turned from flat calm to gusts in the 50-knot range and higher. Our anchor held (thank you, Rocna) and the only damage to our vessel was a broken flag staff—yes, a huge gust came and snapped our beautiful teak flag staff. 174
Aappilattoq is a picturesque village with 132 inhabitants. As we were exploring it, we came upon a gentleman cleaning the fur of a polar bear he had shot. The village is allowed to kill four polar bears a year. They use all the parts and pieces, and nothing goes to waste. And, yes, you had better carry a heavyduty gun when traveling in Greenland, since the polar bears do not fear man. Luckily, a small grocery store in the village has rifles for sale, nestled amongst the canned goods. No one asks for permits or previous shooting experience when buying guns in Greenland.
We had a nice weather forecast for the passage to Canada, so we didn’t stay very long in Greenland. But it was majestic, stark, and beautiful, and certainly warrants a return trip for further exploration. The next stop on our journey was Port au Choix, Newfoundland—our first port in the Americas since 2014. We arrived in Port au Choix on August 3, and the Newfoundlanders certainly lived up to their friendly reputation. As soon as we arrived, people came to greet us and asked if we needed help—a lift to the grocery store or a restaurant, or anything else. Even the local Coast Guard guys helped us with a mechanical issue and offered to lend any tools we needed from their work shop. Where else can you experience such a warm welcome?
Anchored in Aappilattoq, Greenland.
We were headed toward Maine for a planned trip to the “spa” (aka boatyard), which led us through the Bras d’Or Lakes in Nova Scotia. While in the lakes, we met up with old CCA friends, Judy and Milt Baker (FLA), and made new CCA friends, Tammy and Jim McLean (FLA). On August 17, after 3,500 nautical miles and lots of adventures, we arrived in Belfast, Maine. This is the farthest south Summer Star has been in five years! Our plan is to be here for a couple of months, enjoying some cool weather before continuing south to Florida. We have had a wonderful time this summer, and are looking forward to exploring the northern latitudes again.
About the Authors Kristina Thyrre and Atle Moe both grew up with salt water in their veins. Since retiring in 2012, they have been actively cruising on their Nordhavn 57, Summer Star. They have covered 25,000 nautical miles and visited 14 countries, from the Bahamas to the Baltic Sea. Kristina and Atle are looking forward to having Summer Star back in her home port of St. Petersburg, Florida, for a year, before they take off again on their next adventure.
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South Atlantic to the
Beagle Channel Dramatic wind fields in the forecast. Source: Windy.com
by Steve James, Florida Station
t’s December 1, 2018—late spring in Buenos Aires. Threshold, my aluminum 55-foot Kanter sloop, is sitting at the Yacht Club Argentino, pulling at her dock lines, fully provisioned, crew assembled, as a once-in-a-season weather window is opening in the Atlantic east of Patagonia. But the harbor is suddenly closed and Buenos Aires is at a standstill, almost shut down. The G-20 is in town for four days. Somehow, being buried in boat preparations for this trip over the past year, I had missed this small detail of international scheduling. The plan had been to sail south from Portugal to cruise the Beagle Channel and then north to Puerto Montt for the southern winter. Our northern summer cruise began in June in Lagos, Portugal, and meandered south with stops in Cadiz, Rabat, Funchal, Lanzarote, Gran Canaria, and Tenerife, then from Cabo Verde to Piriapolis, Uruguay—more than 6,000 miles before berthing in Buenos Aires in late October. Several crew changes, mostly CCA friends, were made along the way. Now, while we waited for the elite and powerful to get out of town, our weather window evaporated. Good weather windows south of 35˚ south, the southern latitude of Buenos Aires, Santiago, Auckland, Sydney, and Cape Town, tend to be narrow, fragile, and suspect. On the Atlantic side of South America, in the lee of the continent, there is no relief from
the easterly flowing systems of the mid-latitudes. The systems seem to be born here. The Andes, as they rise 22,000 feet quickly from the Pacific Ocean, do in fact slow down the large, mature Southern Ocean systems, deflecting and accelerating them between Cape Horn and the Antarctic peninsula. Almost all the water is drained from the atmosphere on the western steeps as the weather gets dammed up against these high ridges. This is the only obstructing land in these latitudes of global circumference. When the air overflows this geologic dam, an icy wind spills from the peaks in giant katabatic-like accelerations across the pampas and hundreds of miles out to sea. The winds will spin left or right as high- or low-pressure systems. The lows grow and dominate, but the tiny, tight highs are just as evil, especially when they combine with lows, creating steep gradients of compressed isobars and confused seas on the relatively shallow continental shelf. The seas here are not the huge, developed swells of the Southern Ocean. There is not the fetch for these to build. Our experience was to have Force 6 to Force 8 winds arrive quickly, followed by building three- to five-meter waves, steep and closely packed everywhere around us, that did not exist an hour earlier. But the wind could quickly shift as a counterclockwise high might be replaced by a clockwise low in less than 48 hours. A pattern could develop with a new system spinning offshore every two days.
we made a turn to the south a hundred miles downriver, the wind also shifted. Now we were hard on it, not quite laying the course. As night fell, the wind increased, the seas picked up, and progress slowed. It was time to tack and get some sea room. This was when our trip began to get longer. We had a bad night. Sheeting in the jib on the port side, long before it became fully loaded, the sheet parted in the middle, leaving the sail flogging in the breeze. This was a surprise for a sheet in just its second season and not in that much wind. Our simple fix was to roll up the jib, tie the sheet back together, and press on. A couple of hours later, with the wind still building, we had two reefs in the main and the staysail had replaced the jib. Suddenly we heard a crash. The fixed bimini frame had let go its mounting struts, pivoted on its main supports, and stood almost vertical against the backstays like a giant speed brake. A welded forward mount had broken, and the numerous set screws did not hold the supporting struts. We hove-to, got the bimini repositioned, lashed it into place, and got back under way. Shortly thereafter, while it was very dark and rough, the staysail halyard released the top of the sail. On the way down, the top roller bearing jammed at the top joint of the
“Weather windows” took on a new meaning. The days of finding a moderate wind, slight sea, and sunshine were over. Avoiding extreme wind and seas while keeping the wind at our back became the new normal. Later in the voyage, we became so accustomed to deeply reefed, fast, downwind sailing that a sense of anxiousness began to permeate the pilot house when the wind dropped below Force 4 and the boat slowed down. A strong boat and good crew are essential anywhere below 35˚ south. Mark Scott (NYS), John Moffitt (FLA), my son Nathan, and I had Threshold secured, topped up, inspected, and provisioned with my wife Karyn’s shore-side help. I believed I had both the boat and the crew I needed when we were finally allowed to sail, a week late, from Buenos Aires south toward Mar del Plata, our jump-off point, still a long 1,200 nautical miles northeast of Tierra del Fuego. Our perfect weather window was long gone, but the forecast was not unacceptable, just variable. A two-and-a-half day, 300-nautical mile voyage out the shallow, brown Rio de la Plata into the clear, blue Atlantic was the first stage of what would ultimately be a 1,700-mile voyage to the Beagle Channel and Ushuaia. We were off, in good spirits, but now in a little bit of a hurry. Karyn would monitor us from shore and meet us in Ushuaia. Sailing out the Rio de la Plata along the ancient, undredged channel, we stayed out of the shipping lane. As issue 62 2020
extrusion, where a set screw had shaken loose. The top of the sail flogged wildly in the wind. Mark and Nate did a good job on the foredeck, wrapping the pole lift around the stay to save the sail. Once everything was finally secured, I called a halt. We hove-to for three or four hours until dawn, when the wind and seas calmed down a bit. We got some rest. Later, when I went up the mast to retrieve the halyard, I discovered that the ring on the ProFurl bearing had parted at the weld.
Three reefs and half a staysail.
The wind went light, leaving a flogging mainsail in the leftover seas. We began motoring the remaining 110 miles to Mar del Plata. I had previously experienced bad fuel issues that I thought had been solved in Piriapolis, Uruguay (but that’s another story!), which were stirred up again. How many times have I cautioned people to make sure their fuel is clean when headed offshore? Here I was now, saying this to myself, and thinking that my crew was probably talking behind my back: “What is going on here? What will happen next with this boat?” Luckily, at a low RPM, the filters and the ever-amazing Yanmar were able to handle the wet, dirty fuel. We motor-sailed slowly, arriving at the drawbridge entrance to the Yacht Club Argentino annex too late to enter. We picked up a mooring, four-and-a-half days out of Buenos Aires. The naval base, fishing port, and minor Argentinian resort town of Mar del Plata is the only staging spot along this part of the Atlantic coast to wait for weather, assemble crew, outfit with long shore-lines, and do final provisioning. Mar del Plata has some basic facilities, including berthing at an outpost of the Yacht Club Argentino. Here we found industrial chandleries, commercial fishing supplies, and the antiquated safety equipment specifically required by the Argentine Coast Guard, the Prefectura Naval. An inspection is usually required of the boat and crew before a zarpe is issued to depart south toward Tierra del Fuego (or the Malvinas—the Falklands—for which a special permit is required). The Argentine Coast Guard knows it will be very difficult or impossible to help if someone gets into trouble. The yacht club, basic as could be, was very accommodating. Threshold was one of six boats with various plans, all headed in the same direction. We were the only Americans, surrounded by a Dutch, a French, a British, and two Swiss yachts. All were engaged in final passage preparations, waiting for crew, seasonal timing, or their version of a good weather forecast. We departed five days after we arrived, having replaced the unreliable jib and staysail sheets with new lines, securing the staysail halyard with a shackle, refastening and lashing the bimini, discarding all remaining fuel, and cleaning the offending fuel tank as best as we could. We took on uninspiring, muddylooking biodiesel, but the best Argentina sells. We were now well behind schedule. 178
It is a little over 1,300 nautical miles from Mar del Plata to Ushuaia, and we were watching the weather closely. This would be the most remote water I had ever sailed, past the eastern entrance to the Strait of Magellan and the vacant north shore of Tierra del Fuego into the dreaded Le Maire Strait. The initial weather forecast was good. Stronger wind was predicted in a few days, but all from the favorable, westerly quadrant. Our previous delays and slow progress meant that our ETA for Ushuaia and John’s airplane schedule now overlapped. It was an agonizing decision to make a quick stop at the rough fishing port of Deseado. We entered the river and tied up to a barge, hiked a mile to the Prefectura for clearance (clearance into and out of any Argentinian port is an arduous bureaucratic exercise), had a quick dinner at the only restaurant in town, and a quick sleep. John found a long ride to the airport, I hiked back to the Prefectura for a new zarpe, and we departed. It was only a 20-hour stop before were off again, headed for the Le Maire Strait. On the second day southeast of Puerto Deseado, we were just north of the latitude of the Strait of Magellan. Our twice-daily Predict Wind forecast downloads via the Iridium GO! continued to be very reliable. It looked as if we could sprint southeast, directly toward the Le Maire Strait, 300
was flowing into the Atlantic at three knots. The opposing wind was heaping up the water ahead of us. After slow-reaching back and forth for three hours, we turned the bow toward the center line of the straits. As we passed between Cabo Mitre and Isla de los Estados, the wind stopped and the ebbing current swept us along as we now motored into a sunny evening. This was the December summer solstice, and the sun was still high. So much for the dreaded straits, but a hat tip to Dallas Murphy (NYS) (Rounding the Horn, 2004) for the “heads-up” warning story of Skip Novak (GLS) and Hamish Laird taking Pelagic through under different circumstances. I believe it when told that a gale against a five-to-seven-knot current can create an eight-meter standing wave off this most significant cape! After our well-executed, lucky rounding of Cabo Mitre, we headed west along a shoreline of green, rocky hills—Tierra del Fuego—with the sun setting in our eyes. It felt as if we were almost there. Well, not quite! Land was in sight and giving us partial shelter from the wind. We had not seen or heard anything human since Puerto Deseado. This must be one of the most remote land areas on Earth. Motoring directly against the wind and current, making two-and-a-half to three miles an hour over the ground, it was going to take a day and a half to cover the last 100 miles to Ushuaia. We motored slowly all night and into the following day. We had plotted an anchorage and were salivating in anticipation of a chicken barbecue and a beer, followed by a quiet night’s sleep. As we contemplated the barbecue, Nate shouted “What’s that?”, pointing to starboard as a column of water vapor and spray rose off the water.
The watch. At 0001, A becomes B becomes C, and the cook becomes A.
nautical miles downwind. The wind was going to blow, and we were going to fly—a “cruising” fly, not a “racing” fly. With a triple-reefed main and poled-out staysail, Threshold will track downwind in Force 6-7, gusting to Force 8, in comfort. The outside air temperature was about 50˚F, water temperature 48˚F, and the crew was in foul-weather gear and Spinlock life vests, sweating in a sunny pilot house at 70˚F. The wind outside was heavy and hard, but no spray. We were hanging on but not being thrown around. After nearly two days of romping along, however, the sea became significantly rougher. With the wind still Force 6-7 behind us, we were approaching the Le Maire Strait. Ten miles northwest of Cabo Mitre, the pointed toe of Tierra del Fuego, we decided that it was time to slow down, heave-to, and wait. We had arrived at maximum flood tide in the straits. Even out here in the open sea, the Pacific
“Nate, that is a williwaw!” I said, knowingly, having never seen one before. Moments later, a sister williwaw caught our triple-reefed main and laid us over 45˚ for a few seconds. These “williwaws” deserve their special name amongst katabatic winds. They are violent, heavy, cold winds that come off the high, rocky hills to hit the water vertically, thumping on the top of the boat and rolling it around. These are the winds of legend, and require caution and constant awareness. They can do significant damage to the unprepared. Our choice of anchorage was excellent—a cove, Outer Cambaceres, with rolling hills to windward and enough swing room. It was the first attractive anchorage we could find after turning west out of the straits, 100 miles back. A dying wind and a setting sun accompanied the 40-kilo Rocna to a good set in 40 feet of cold water. Jackets off, we cleaned up the deck while retrieving three beers to celebrate a good passage. But before the beer touched our lips—wham!—40 knots of wind hit us broadside. Welcome to the Beagle Channel. Thirty-five miles of motoring west the next day, passing Puerto Williams, Chile, to port, brought us to the AFASYN dock in Ushuaia, with Karyn waving us toward the spot she had issue 62 2020
The crew in Buenos Aires at springtime: John Moffitt (FLA), Mark Scott (NYS), Nathan Olson, and the author.
reserved. It was Christmas Eve. A reunion. What a very nice gift. And there was a Christmas Eve dock party, primarily attended by the crews of the dozen or so expedition sailboats that specialize in charters to Antarctica. We were amateurs amongst the pros. This was a crowd of real sailors, one of whom was Nikolai Litau, our 2001 Blue Water Medal winner. We had arrived alive, and were very pleased and honored to be in this crowd! This Christmas Eve concluded our long, 8,000-nautical mile journey, from June to December, from Portugal to Ushuaia. We could now look forward to cruising the Beagle Channel, then northwest through the Chilean channels to Puerto Montt, Chile. We had done it! âœ§ 180
Nate Olson, the author, and Mark Scott in Ushuaia, happy to be there. Photo by Karyn James.
Threshold arrives in Ushuaia on Christmas Eve.
About the Author Steve and Karyn James have sailed Threshold (their third), a 55-foot sloop, 60,000 miles, including cruises to Svalbard, the Atlantic coast of Europe, the Mediterranean, Tierra del Fuego, and Patagonia. Threshold is an aluminum Chuck Paine design, launched in 2002 by Kanter Yachts. She is currently in Puerto Montt, Chile. When not on Threshold, Karyn and Steve reside in Palm City, Florida. In 2012, they were the recipients of the clubâ€™s Far Horizons Award. Steve is pictured here with Karyn in Ushuaia.
issue 62 ď‚˛ 2020
North-about from EuropE to maiNE is LogicaL by Bill Strassberg, Boston Station, Gulf of Maine Post
o paraphrase French sailor and author Bernard Moitessier, it was “the logical route” home to Maine. Visions of Johanna had enjoyed four years sailing about British, Irish, and French waters, and it was time to return home. When I examined options, the rhumb line from our winter home in Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland, to Penobscot Bay, Maine, effectively passed through Iceland and Greenland. I had previously explored an option of sailing to northern Europe via Greenland, but timing the ice makes for a difficult west-to-east cruise. On the return, not only was it the shortest route, it was clearly the most exciting. Logic prevailed! But I knew too little about ice and focused first on educating myself about the behaviors of icebergs, learning from experienced ice sailors such as Steve Brown (BOS) on Novara and Bob Shepton. I read high-latitude books about ice while dreaming of “egg codes”—the World Meteorology Organization’s system of oval-shaped symbols for describing sea ice. Timing the ice and understanding its density and movement is critical. The east coast of Greenland, on average, might open for transit around July 15—sometimes earlier, and sometimes not at all. Patient vigilance is a necessity.
Brigid and Lucas dining on the foredeck while on iceberg watch near Storo Island, Greenland.
This article recounts our voyage from Northern Ireland to the east coast of Greenland. Visions of Johanna was generally well-found and ready for high-latitude sailing. Nonetheless, I inspected all her systems after I returned to her in late April. Fender boards and a tuk (ice pole) were added in Carrick, along with a waterline-lowering amount of frozen and packaged stores, as food is much more expensive farther north. My friend Jack Goralnik joined me to assist with boat preparations, a nice morale booster, and on May 13 we departed Carrick and sailed up through the Scottish Hebrides. Along the way, we stopped at Islay and a couple of single-malt distilleries, Carsaig Bay, and a berth at Croabh Marina for an Ocean Cruising Club event in Loch Shuna, where Simon and Sally Currin (BOS) were fantastic weekend hosts. After a visit to Tobermory, a passage through the Small Isles, and rounding Ardnamurchan Point, we sailed to Loch Nevis, where we enjoyed a pint or two at the Old Forge on the Knoydart Peninsula, the most remote pub in the U.K. Just over a week later, we arrived in the port town of Mallaig, where a crew change was made.
Pacific crossing, the crew of Visions of Johanna was composed of my wife, (the eponymous) Johanna, and son Gram, with occasional guest appearances by son Zachary. Alas, after arrival in New Zealand, Gram never left and as a result, I lost not only my onboard naval architect and marine engineer, but my racing partner too. Sailing to New Zealand was great, but talk about shooting yourself in the foot! On the other hand, we now have family and grandchildren in New Zealand. Meanwhile, at this point, Johanna is more of a warm-weather sailor and prefers Atlantic crossings in a 747. So be it!
I no longer enjoy the luxury of extended voyaging with my number one crew choice, my family; passage planning now includes procurement of suitable crew. On our 2009–2010
To me, voyaging is all about the weather. What the weather may bring dictates when and where I shall go. We spent our first overnight in Loch Bracadale, Isle of Skye, and had initially
I had allowed up to three-and-a-half months for the cruise and faced the challenge of finding mates who had time to sail with me, were skilled, and favorably inclined to sail in cold waters. My longtime friend, Doug Pinciaro, and his friend Chuck Pinkerton joined me in Mallaig for the passage to Ísafjörður in Iceland’s Westfjords. Not so fast, though. We had a lot of great stops planned between Mallaig and Ísafjörður, if Neptune allowed.
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Hiking on Suðuroy, Faroe Islands.
planned a day or two cruising about Skye and visiting the Talisker distillery before continuing to Stornoway in the Outer Hebrides. I use Expedition software for weather and passage planning and saw that if we stayed more than a day on Skye and Stornoway, we would be holed up in Stornoway for a week or more before we could make for the Faroe Islands. Hence, the decision was made to bypass both distillery and Stornoway, and we headed nearly due north from Loch Bracadale, directly to Tvøroyri on the island of Suðuroy in the Faroe Islands. A perhaps unsung advantage of the northerly Viking Route is the scarcity of long passages; sailing from Isle of Skye to Suðuroy was a 37-hour overnight sail. From the Faroes to the east coast of Iceland was similarly an overnight, as was our later passage from Ísafjörður, Iceland, to Storo Island in Greenland. Passaging from Northern Ireland to Greenland encompassed, in its entirety, only three overnight sails—and overnight is a bit of a misnomer as it never really was dark at night! Hence, once again, this seemed to be the logical route. The Faroe Islands were remote and breathtakingly beautiful, the birdlife and stark geography fantastic to explore. Faroese, friendly and helpful folk, were our introduction to whaling and northern seafaring traditions and culture. There were two whale catches during our week in the Faroes, first in Tvøroyri and later in Tórshavn, with the whale meat and blubber divided among villagers. As the first cruising boat to arrive in Tvøroyri that season, we were welcomed by the city 184
manager and photographed with the mayor. In Tórshavn, we dined upon dried and fermented whale and fish within the old town, where narrow streets and traditional roofs of green grass are commonplace. We saw a very different world and lifestyle. Quite possibly, the Faroe Islands will become the “new” Iceland, as they are beautiful, remote, lightly populated, and relatively undiscovered. Sailing through the Faroes required attention to weather, but especially to the fierce currents between the islands where numerous races form dangerous standing waves when the wind is against tide. Timing your passage never solved all the races, but you could choose the foremost race as the “gate,” accepting the succeeding races for what they were. May was still early in the season, and sunny days of hiking in shirt sleeves were interspersed with sailing in occasional rain or sleet. We had moved to the port of Sørvágur in order to hike on the neighboring island of Mykines, when a decision point arrived. I had offered to add Chuck’s wife, Deb, to the crew after our arrival in Iceland, and her schedule required a June 5 arrival in Seyðisfjörður on Iceland’s east coast. At the same time, serial low-pressure systems were sliding north and east from northern Europe across the Atlantic, with strong northeasterlies predicted across our rhumb line. A several-day hiatus was looming, and we made the tough choice to leave the Faroes earlier than desired, grabbing the opportunity to overnight to Iceland with a June 2 arrival. Even then, it was a windy and not very warm
expect when you get there. Harbors generally have an inner, shallow-water area of floating docks filled with local boats and one or more areas of deep-water wharves, typically constructed of horizontal boards and tires, sometimes concrete. Occasional harbors have vertical-board-lined wharves that allow your fenders to ride up and down—a sight that makes a skipper smile—and there were two with floating docks, approaching Nirvana! Cruising Iceland began with a lumpy, uncomfortable, upwind motor-sail to Vopnafjörður. From there, we navigated carefully around Langans Point, the northeast tip of Iceland, in less boisterous conditions to Raufarhöfn, a tiny harbor and village. There was no room to wharf up, but the harbormaster allowed us to raft to a fishing boat. We enjoyed some gentle sightseeing and leg-stretching walks, but looked forward to our next, larger port of call, Húsavík, a major whale-watching hub. The sail to Húsavík was delightful—finally!—with sun and gentle broad-reaching, as we crossed above the Arctic Circle on our downwind tacks.
Old city in Tórshavn, Faroe Islands.
sail. My log reads “Snowing!!!” at 1220 hours as we made for Seyðisfjörður, a pleasant town and a protected harbor. Seyðisfjörður, the most touristic town on Iceland’s east coast, is frequented by cruise ships and features the remnants of a commercial fishing industry. However, Icelandic east coast harbors and many of the north coast harbors are not yacht friendly. Seyðisfjörður’s yacht wharf is in disrepair and unfortunately, we were pinned onto it for days due to those unyielding northeast winds. Although Seyðisfjörður had been recommended to me as the best east coast clearance harbor, in retrospect I would choose a different port of entry as waiting out the winds was hard on me and the boat. The wharf, faced with double rows of stanchiongrabbing truck tires amid broken horizontal boards, became my foe. Although guidebooks and my predecessors suggested that smaller, more southerly east coast harbors were less convenient for clearance and provisioning, the sad state of the wharf facility in Seyðisfjörður superseded any such loss of convenience. Nonetheless, the harbormaster and staff in Seyðisfjörður could not have been kinder or more helpful. They informed me of plans to tear down the existing wharf and build a new one in 2021. A great improvement in the offing. East and north coast Icelandic harbors are generally small and dispersed along a rugged coastline lacking true cruising facilities. If you are fortunate, you may find the phone number of the harbormaster of your next port of call—but that doesn’t mean that he will answer, and one never really knows what to
I must admit that I never fully understood the definition— and location—of the Arctic Circle. A marker on Grimsey Island locates this great circle at latitude 66° 34’ N, although I have read that today, the circle actually lies farther north than is depicted by the marker. Confusion was cleared up for me in Seyðisfjörður, where I was befriended by the captain of an ice-rated cruise ship. He described the Arctic Circle’s location as the latitude where the sun is bisected by the horizon at the June solstice—the latitude where half the sun is visible. But the confounding thing is that the latitude changes as the Earth tilts and wobbles on its axis each year, with the tilt of the axis varying between 22.1 and 24.5 degrees every 40,000 years. Currently, the Arctic Circle is creeping northward by about 50 feet annually. It will slide toward the north shore of Grimsey Island, then begin the migration south toward the marker over time. Go figure! We saw whales in the distance as we approached Húsavík, and bird life was abundant along famous promontories featuring “bird cliffs.” We spent several nights in Húsavík’s protected, busy harbor, tied to a wharf made of broad, vertical battens. We met our first cruising yacht, Bestevaer II, in Húsavík, and enjoyed an evening aboard Visions of Johanna with Gerald and Evelyn Dykstra and crew, feasting on a fresh-off-the-fishingboat cod dinner. On a layover day, we hired a car and toured the northern part of Vatnajökull National Park, from Dettifoss waterfall to Ásbyrgi, hiking volcanic clefts with striking scenery and rock formations. Next, we sailed and motor-sailed by Flatey Island to Siglufjörður to visit the Herring Era Museum, finding that Gerald Dykstra was correct in his enthusiastic recommendation. issue 62 2020
Seyðisfjörður harbor, Iceland.
Siglufjörður was interesting, with a prosperous fishing history and period architecture, in contrast to many east and north coast towns which are filled with more modern, but bland structures. The next day’s forecast was for moderate to heavy winds, but the inner fjord and harbor were so protected we barely felt a zephyr when we departed Siglufjörður at 0630 with a single reef in the main. Well, I made a mistake—certainly not my first or last—because by 0715 we had turned tail back into the fjord, where we put in a triple reef and headed out for a long day’s sail to Ingólfsfjörður, our first foray into the famed Westfjords. My log reads “30–35 knots” as we broad-reached in large, breaking, and following seas, crew wide-eyed in wonder and appreciation at how well Visions of Johanna sailed the conditions. We chose Ingólfsfjörður for protection and access to Hornstrandir. The next day, we hiked across to Northurfjörður, but did not make it to the famous thermal springs. Sigh. Hornvik, the jewel harbor of the Westfjords, was our next planned port of call, but the day dawned thick ‘a fog and stayed that way. Maine style! A visit to Hornvik was not sensible under the circumstances and we chose instead to round the Hornstrander Peninsula to its protected west side, anchoring at the perfectly sheltered head of the fjord, 186
where many birds and at least four waterfalls were visible from the cockpit. Log simply reads “Fantastic!” This leg of the trip ended the following day with our June 17 arrival in Ísafjörður, the “capital” of the Westfjords and a sailing and adventuring hub. Chuck and Deb helped put the boat away and were bid a fond farewell. Ísafjörður town is small, with a permanent population of 3,000, but has restaurants, two supermarkets, and a swimming pool. A commercial selection of marine supplies is accessible, hiking maps are available in the shops, and several enterprises focus on adventure tourism in the Hornstrander and Greenland. The sailing community is small, but tight. A “marina” was established several years ago and is now a busy place, functioning as a waypoint for boats crossing to and from Greenland and also as a safe haven for over-wintering one’s yacht. I believe that last winter, up to 13 boats were berthed and rafted together on both sides of the single pontoon and along the adjacent wharf wall. Local sailors, including Halldor Sveinbjornsson, oversee the marina and adjust and amplify lines when necessary, and Muggi, the harbormaster, is friendly and helpful in solving sailors’ needs.
“ He described the Arctic Circle’s
location as the latitude where the sun is bisected by the horizon at the June solstice—the latitude where half the sun is visible. But the confounding thing is that the latitude changes as the Earth tilts and wobbles on its axis each year, with the tilt of the axis varying between 22.1 and 24.5 degrees every 40,000 years.
After a week of cleaning and sorting, Johanna joined me in Iceland for a five-night land expedition about the classic golden circle—along the south coast and the Snæfellsnes Peninsula—before I felt we needed to tack back to check in on Visions of Johanna. We had a few more touring days (and boat work days) before Lucas Folch and Brigid Garvey, two of the three Greenland crew, arrived on July 5. Johanna helped us reprovision, but more importantly, helped instruct my new crew on the methods and techniques we employed on Visions of Johanna. We drilled for several sailing days, tacking, jibing, reefing, and anchoring. Our sailing was to be vigorous, and I was keenly interested in creating a team spirit and instilling a culture of safety. The crew received a revamped and detailed handout describing preferred sailing strategies and how we run our boat. Safe use of gear and procedures and rules regarding cockpit and deck-safety protocols were stressed. I explained, quite simply, that the water was cold, often closer to 40 degrees than 50, and if someone were to go overboard, I was simply not good enough to assuredly turn 62-foot Visions of Johanna back to the person in the water in the 15–20 minute window before hypothermia became dangerous—and that’s only if they survive the gasp reflex. These conversations, and our discussions about
Seyðisfjörður town, Iceland. issue 62 2020
“ Ken McKinley of Locus Weather
in Camden, Maine, whom I have used for professional weather forecasting and routing assistance for nearly 15 years, agreed with me that conditions were favorable. Meanwhile my son Gram, our shore support, was sending compressed ice charts from the Danish meteorological service. He was shortly nicknamed ‘NASA control’ by the crew, helping me solve from afar the occasional but inevitable boat issues.
Vatnajökull National Park, Iceland.
protocol, were sobering and effective, confirming that we had to rely on and take care of one another out there. Rules were that one person would always, formally, have the con; you were to be tethered anytime there were two human feet in the cockpit; and one never left the cockpit to go forward without someone observing them. I expected harsh conditions and had never felt such responsibility for my crew, but it all served a purpose. Crewmates became a team, understood onboard etiquette, and worked and played together exceptionally well. Our third crew, Chris Galbraith, is a great mate of mine and Johanna’s from New Zealand. Chris arrived July 14, and we all enjoyed an evening together before Johanna left for home the following day. Meanwhile, our voyage plans and the ice and weather outlook were in alignment for a July 16 departure for Greenland. I had been studying weather conditions and ice charts on a daily basis. Ken McKinley of Locus Weather in Camden, Maine, whom I have used for professional weather 188
forecasting and routing assistance for nearly 15 years, agreed with me that conditions were favorable. Meanwhile my son Gram, our shore support, was sending compressed ice charts from the Danish meteorological service. He was shortly nicknamed “NASA control” by the crew, helping me solve from afar the occasional but inevitable boat issues. Several options were available for landfall in east Greenland. Scoresby Sund, a northernmost possibility, was an enticing destination as the largest fjord in the world, but it was too far north to allow a same-season return home to Maine. Scoresby is a destination unto itself, best explored with a return trip and plans to winter in Iceland. Prins Christian Sund (PCS) is an inland sea passage to the south and a natural wonder. A third option was to head due west to the Ammassalik Sund and Tasiilaq region, halfway between the two. Much less traveled than the PCS, this area held great appeal. My interest was validated by Ísafjörður adventure
Dettifoss waterfall, Iceland.
Lenticular cloud in Iceland. issue 62 ď‚˛ 2020
Wharf at Seyðisfjörður, Iceland.
captain Sigurdur “Siggi” Jonsson, who described the beauty of this remote area, with Storo Island as a landfall of choice. In much of this area, the mountains rise up by the sea, mountain tops are snow-covered, and glaciers discharge huge quantities of ice into the fjords. I had previously highlighted Storo as fine-looking and an all-weather harbor, and so the choice was made! Conditions looked good for crossing, very good in fact, anticipating fair winds for the first three-quarters of the trip, easing toward landfall in Greenland—which was perfect in my book. Departing Ísafjörður at 0630 on July 16, we sailed during the day with a single-reefed main, staysail, and half-reefed jib, adding a second mainsail reef in the late evening as a general precaution, with the wind increasing to 20–25 knots, and anticipating the apparent wind to come forward of the beam as the wind direction backed from east-northeast to north-northeast. We had our first iceberg radar targets 85 nautical miles west of Iceland, but these were a lone pair, and light fog precluded visual confirmation. We encountered many more targets 120 nautical miles from Greenland, requiring two-person watches by 0430, when things really started to get interesting. Chris was on watch when he awakened me to point out multiple 190
The author's wife, Johanna, at Dynjandi Waterfall in Iceland's Westfjords.
Chris at the helm, Storo Island, Greenland.
radar targets. With intermittent fog, we spent the next six hours on avoidance tactics, rotating personnel and working in pairs, with one person on radar watch and one—and later two—people on deck; visibility was perhaps a quarter-mile or less. After going through three bands of targets, we were finally handed a respite as we continued to fly toward the Greenland coast, having made 195 nautical miles in the first 24 hours.
Growlers at Storo Island, Greenland.
Neptune was beneficent and much to our good fortune, the fog cleared around 1 p.m., some 50 nautical miles off the coast. I had gone down for a catch-up nap and was thrilled when the crew awakened me for a nice, big surprise. The afternoon was sunny and the wind had eased, and we were making our final approach under engine in light winds and mild seas. All in all, it couldn’t have been better. The Storo anchorage approach was exciting, much anticipated, and a proper finale. We slowed and closed the coast with trepidation. Numerous icebergs obscured the harbor, and it appeared that the entry might have been closed off by ice. The anchorage approach, a convoluted dogleg with guardian growlers, was not visible until we were nearly upon it. Our entrance was breathtaking as we nosed toward the bay, weaving issue 62 2020
Approaching the Storo entry, Greenland.
Storo morning growlers, Greenland.
Approaching the Storo entry, Greenland.
Icebergs off Storo Island.
and dodging growlers, hoping that the narrow channel, still partially obscured, was not blocked. Indeed, we found sufficient room to gently motor through the choke point, guarded by icy port and starboard sentries. Once into the bowl, it was still and calm, and we anchored in 48 feet on the southern third of the harbor head, which was shallower than the northern half. We celebrated a bit before collapsing in our bunks. We awakened the next morning to a bright and sunny sky. The scenery was stunning, but we were not alone. Growlers in the bay had congregated overnight to join us, some less than ten meters from our transom—but that is a tale of icebergs and glaciers for another time. Sailing the north was nothing if not fantastic. Chris said it best when he declared being with the ice and icebergs a spiritual experience. In the past, moving at a glacial pace meant going slowly, but today, glaciers are retreating at an alarming rate as oceans rise and climate changes. Wouldn’t it be wonderful for the CCA to make climate change, glacial retreat, and rising ocean levels a focus of interest? I think so. ✧
A bout the Author Bill Strassberg bought a boat before a car, and has been sailing the better part of his life. Visions of Johanna, launched in 2003, has sailed Bermuda races and across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Bill and Johanna sailed a southerly route across the Pacific, via the Galapagos to Easter Island, Pitcairn Island, the Gambier Isles, and the Tuamotu Archipelago, before reaching the Society Islands and beyond. They cruised Ireland, Scotland, the United Kingdom, and France from 2015 to 2019 before bringing Visions of Johanna home to Maine in the summer of 2019.
issue 62 2020
Around CAPE HORN and
TIERRA DEL FUEGO on a
SUPERYACHT by Skip Novak, Great Lakes Station Photographs by Skip Novak and Gerhard Veldsman 194
issue 62 ï‚² 2020
hen asked to help guide the 86-meter Aquijo, the world’s largest ketch, for a cruise in Tierra del Fuego and a Cape Horn rounding, I was very skeptical. Accustomed to sheltering in small coves with my expedition sailboats, Pelagic and Pelagic Australis, with four lines tied securely to trees and rocks to get ultimate protection against frequent ferocious wind conditions, I was trying to imagine how we could handle this with a vessel that was more ship than sailing yacht. Instead of lines to shore, it would have to be a single anchor down, or two anchors down, with a risk of a twist and a tangle if the wind changed suddenly.
December 23 in Ushuaia and ending on January 5 in Puerto Natales, including transits of the Beagle Channel, Brecknock Channel, Cockburn Channel, and the Straits of Magellan. Rounding Cape Horn at Christmas would be a priority.
Working for the superyacht consultancy EYOS (Expeditions/Yachts/Operations/Specialists), I was so convinced this was not a good idea that I tried to persuade the South African captain, Gerhard Veldsman, that, counterintuitively, it would be better and safer to do a dedicated cruise to South Georgia. Most, if not all, anchorages there are open to the sea along the lee northeast coast. Even in the strongest katabatic winds, not a lot can happen other than being blown out of your anchorage. In Tierra del Fuego, you are, for the most part, boxed in by land on most sides, and while swinging on a hook, the wind can come out of any direction unannounced.
Aquijo sailed down from Punta del Este in Uruguay, and it was a tight turn-around when the guest party boarded on the commercial jetty. Things went smoothly in Ushuaia, but it is no secret that port costs there are always astronomical, leaving a bad aftertaste. We entered Chile at Puerto Williams late that same afternoon, having swapped the Argentine pilot for Marcello, his Chilean counterpart. South American Super Yacht Support (SASYS), which EYOS collaborates with for all things Chilean, delivered fresh provisions that evening. We were off the next morning, east-about down the Beagle Channel, and anchored in Porto Toro at the east end of Isla Navarino for a walk ashore. This most southern settlement (in the world!) is a fishing village, but was deserted at the time as the centolla (king crab) fishery had closed December 1. No centolla to buy, but we were armed with a trap, which we put to good use that night in Bahia Orange, northwest of Cape Horn. The crew hauled her up at daybreak, and we had more than enough centolla for our Christmas lunch.
For a variety of reasons I was voted down on the South Georgia option, so Gerhard and I, as we say in South Africa, “made a plan.” We scheduled a 14-day cruise, beginning on
Above top: A fine catch of centolla, or king crab. Above bottom: Boarding the tender was unsafe with Aquijo’s side platform awash.
Patagonian seas can be a challenge, even for an 86-meter superyacht.
It was predicted to blow a steady 40 knots for the Cape Horn rounding. We cautiously rolled out the staysail, which was enough to slide quickly underneath the scenic Isla Hermite at speed and round the Horn by midday—and it was a proper rounding; under sail, blowing a Force 8, with all 25 of us on the fly bridge sipping Champagne! The idea was to try and land on Cape Horn Island, but the westerly was bending around the land, streaming along the shore. We dropped an anchor well out and managed to get a Zodiac in to recce the landing on the rocky beach. Although the landing was tenable, the side platform on Aquijo was awash and unsafe. Here was an example of the bigger the vessel, the more distance you need to be away from the land to be safe, which renders you more vulnerable for safe tender ops in wind and chop. Unfortunately, we had to scrub the landing and hightailed it north, back into the entrance of the Beagle Channel, passing by Puerto Williams. Our next stop was a short 40 miles west to Bahia Yendegaia, a long fjord on the north side of the channel at the eastern end of the Darwin Mountain Range. We were hoping for a stroll around the abandoned estancia, which was settled by a Croatian family at the turn of the 20th century. The 40,000 hectares of glacial outwash plain, braided rivers, and high mountains covered in beech forest has now reverted to the government, after a spell of
protection by an environmental coalition to spare the land from logging to produce wood chips. It is now an extension of the Darwin National Park of Tierra del Fuego. Sadly, we were again thwarted from landing. This corner of the fjord in front of the estancia, where we always anchor, is usually a calm spot (or so I tried to convince Gerhard!) but not that day, and we again had trouble using the side platform in strong winds and chop. As expected, wind conditions were an issue for a vessel of this size, but luckily for us, we had a benign spell of fine weather for the remainder of the cruise. We spent a full day, a night and part of the next day in Seno Pia, exploring the eastern arm up to the head of an icefall, then anchoring in the west arm for the night. It is a tight spot, but the calm weather held, giving us time and space to have an asado (barbecue) on an island in the fjord, where we roasted a whole mutton carcass that had been curing in the open air, hung from a pad-eye on the foremast. Everyone—except an anchor watch—spent the four hours of slow cooking ashore over a few drinks, sitting on the rocks while watching the ice calve off the glacier across the bay—magic! The next morning, we had a long hike, picking manzanita berries (little apples) along the way. We walked through thick bush to the snout of a retreating glacier, then back along a pristine beach with ice-block sculptures stranded by the outgoing tide. For dessert that evening, we made a berry crumble. We were not hunters, but at least we were gatherers. issue 62 2020
Aquijo is the largest Bermudan-rigged ketch ever launched. Designed by Bill Tripp for long-distance bluewater cruising with good sailing performance, her twin carbon masts set 3,247 square meters of upwind sail area. With a steel hull and aluminum superstructure, her range under power at 13 knots is 3,200 nautical miles. She can accommodate 30 people in total.
Left: Aquijo noses in towards the glacier at the head of the Seno Pia fjord. Above: Crested caracara in Bahia Ainsworth, north of the Beagle Channel. Below: Bergy bit in Seno Pia fjord.
The next day we entered the famous Seno Garibaldi, a long fjord that strikes north into the Darwin Range, and put the bow close to a sea lion colony on the shore. There is no place to shelter in Garibaldi, so we carried on west, anchoring for the night in Puerto Engano, an open bay. From here, going west and into the Brecknock Channel, there is no shelter worth entertaining. We rounded Cape Brecknock, the western end of Tierra del Fuego, just on dark, doubled back to the northeast, into the wide Cockburn Channel, and put a hook down at first light in Bahia Escandalo in Seno Martinez, a good open anchorage for Aquijo with plenty of swinging room. I took the younger members of the guest party on a typically wet hike through the woods, up to a glacial lake at 300 meters, which gave a fine view down to the yacht far below us. While marveling at the scenery and pleased with our efforts, we were visited by a drone—an easier, but less satisfying way to take a picture of Aquijo. Marcello really came into his own the next day, piloting us through the narrow tidal link of Canal Gabriel that leads into Seno Almirantazgo, a wide reach that bounds the northern side of the Darwin Range. Here the glaciers have receded far inland, leaving terminal moraines beyond which only shallowdrafted tenders can venture. We spent a day and night in Bahia Ainsworth for tender cruising, walks ashore, and visiting an elephant seal colony on an islet.
Rainbow after a squall at the head of Seno Pia fjord.
Time was marching on, and because we had spent more time in fewer places, we were obliged to take the Straits of Magellan in one hit, partly under full sail, only slowing down midway up the straits, in the Coloane Marine National Park, to observe humpback whales feeding. Our last anchorage was in Bahia Welcome in Canal Smyth, before Marcello and Gerhard threaded the needle through the narrow channel of Canal Kirke, which leads to the windy Puerto Natales. We had several outstanding days, which we achieved by concentrating on fewer stops and not trying to move every day. A proper landing on shore deserves a full day, a night to relax and reflect, and a slow start the next day before moving on. This rhythm is not generally typical of superyacht cruising where the pace can be relentless, but I feel that our schedule and what we achieved was appreciated by both the guests and the crew. We were blessed with good, settled weather for the latter part of the cruise, which is not always the case in this region. Taking super/mega yachts into the channels of Patagonia will always be a challenge. This article was originally published in SuperSail World, July 2019. issue 62 2020
Asado, or barbecue, on an island in the fjord of Seno Pia. A mutton carcass had been cured in the open air, hung from a pad-eye on Aquijoâ€™s foremast.
About the Author Skip Novak is perhaps best known for his participation in four Whitbread Round the World Yacht Races since 1977. But he is also a mountaineer, and, wishing to combine his mountaineering with sailing, he built the expedition yacht Pelagic in Southampton, England, in 1987. He has since spent every season in Antarctic waters. In 2002-03, Skip managed the construction in South Africa of his new Pelagic Australis, a 23-meter, purpose-built expedition vessel for high-latitude sailing in order to augment the charter operations of the original Pelagic. Launched in September of 2003, she is the flag ship of Pelagic Expeditions. In March 2015, Skip was awarded the prestigious Blue Water Medal by the Cruising Club of America in recognition of his many years of voyaging to high latitudes. In January 2016, the Royal Cruising Club awarded Skip the Tilman Medal, named after Bill Tilman, famous mountaineer and exploratory yachtsman, for a lifetime of leading sailing-to-climb expeditions in high latitudes. Skip sits on the panel of experts that vets expeditions to South Georgia on behalf of the South Georgia government. From 2012 to 2017, he served on the executive committee of the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators.
The Voyages of Pirate: 55,000 Ocean Miles on a Classic Swan ***
by Juan E. Corradi
seapoint books and media , lcc , 2019
Review by Rives Potts, Essex Station
o my fellow sailors and dreamers …. Every so often, we see a movie, hear a song, or read a book that just sticks with us. We find ourselves dancing or acting out a scene from a special movie; subconsciously humming or quietly singing a song that takes us back to a special time and place; or dreaming a story told by an engaging author. Juan Corradi’s Voyages of Pirate is the book that will be in my thoughts and dreams for a very long time. Most likely, and hopefully, forever. First and foremost, Juan is a seasoned sailor, and a very capable one at that. I have known him for a number of years, mostly socially at yacht clubs or racing events in New York, Newport, and Bermuda. A tenured sociology professor and a darn good human being, he’s the type of person everyone likes and admires, and he can often be found surrounded by fellow sailors, discussing adventures on the sea, the characteristics of a boat, or maybe a race that was special for one reason or another. Juan is not short on stories, and the twinkle in his eye confirms his obvious joy and fascination with life, which he truly lives to the fullest.
The book could easily serve as a travel guide, as it describes, in intimate detail, the most interesting features, character, and significance of the faraway lands visited by the Pirate, including the voyage to and from each destination, with all its navigational challenges. Voyages of Pirate is a journey filled with ocean adventures, endless curiosity that begs for more discovery, and a warm realization of one’s time on this planet. We travel along with Juan and his shipmates through three decades of searching for and finding the “right” boat, fitting it out, sailing in and winning
races, completing several transatlantic passages, and exploring much of the “old” world, from the Mediterranean to the Arctic seas. Juan’s ever-present attention to detail and enviable logistical and organizational skills enabled him, his wife, Christina, and their companions to efficiently cover large expanses of water and explore countless coves, bays, fjords, islands, canals, fortresses, taverns, historic ruins, and charming villages. He engages us with marvelous descriptions and interesting details of each port’s place in history, from biblical times to today. The book could easily serve as a travel guide, as it describes, in intimate detail, the most interesting features, character, and significance of the faraway lands visited by the Pirate, including the voyage to and from each destination, with all its navigational challenges. If I am ever lucky enough to visit some of the places that the Pirate did, I will be sure to take my copy of Voyages of Pirate along with me. It would make my trip immensely more enjoyable and fascinating. On board Pirate with Juan were some of his closest friends and shipmates, hailing from all points of the globe. Their love for the sea, adventure, constant learning, and lifelong camaraderie is unique to life on a well-found boat, whether it be thrashing through heavy seas, sailing in smooth lake-like waters, or just enjoying a sunset, sitting on a quiet mooring. Juan Corradi’s deep passion for good boats and wonderful experiences that can be found nowhere else but at sea had me hanging on every word. Voyages of Pirate is a must-read for all sailors. Young or old, experienced or not, they will be captivated by this magnificent storyteller with a penchant for “just messing around in boats.” Voyages of Pirate is available at bookstores, online retailers, and from the publisher, seapointbooks.com. issue 62 2020
Into The Raging Sea: Thirty-Three Mariners, One Megastorm and the Sinking of El Faro ***
by Rachel Slade
harper collins publishers , new york , 2018
Review by Frank Cassidy, Boston Station, Gulf of Maine Post
his book should make you angry. As an experienced sailor, you will relate to and understand the situation and the language. You have made decisions on when to go and what route to take, downloaded weather data, talked with your crew about plans and schedules, and you may have sailed across the same waters. You wouldn’t have done it this way. Into the Raging Sea is the story, and the many stories behind the story, of the El Faro, a 790-foot container ship that sank off the Bahamas during hurricane Joaquin on October 1, 2015. The entire 33-person crew was lost, mostly because the captain made bad decisions, but there is more to it: corporate mismanagement, chainof-command traditions, personalities, low morale, job insecurity, regulations that allow “grandfathering” of existing equipment, and more. Rachel Slade did extensive research. She comes at this story from many angles and is brutally honest in her assessment of the responsible people and organizations. Her facts come from 26 hours of bridge conversation captured by the Voyage Data Recorder (VDR) and U.S. Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) hearings, transcripts, and reports. She shares insight from experienced mariners, including pilots, masters, and mates that sailed on El Faro and her sister ship, men who designed and built the ship, and interviews with USCG and NTSB investigators and other Coast Guard personnel. The author also spent time with El Faro families and dedicates much of the book to telling their stories, so there is a very personal slant to this tale. The tragedy took place during El Faro’s routine 1,100-nauticalmile, two-and-a-half-day run from Jacksonville, Florida, to Puerto Rico. At the time of departure, a tropical storm, Joaquin, was about 150 nautical miles off the route’s halfway point and approaching it at five knots. El Faro had a satellite-connected NAVTEX dotmatrix printer that produced periodic National Hurricane Center (NHC) updates and a private email weather forecasting service, manually downloaded and displayed graphically on a computer. It also had the Weather Channel on TV. While the chief, second, and third mates, along with the engineers, monitored the NHC 202
and Weather Channel updates, the captain relied on out-of-date and overly optimistic email weather graphics that he sometimes didn’t look at for hours after they arrived. The weather sources didn’t agree, and while the crew could talk among themselves, they couldn’t get through to the captain, who was seldom on the bridge. Alternate routes were plotted, proposed, and rejected. “In industry, hospitals, and airlines people work together to make decisions but not in the Merchant Marine—few succeed when they question authority,” the author writes. As it turned out, Joaquin developed into a Category 3 hurricane and the tracks collided, with disastrous results. Morale on board was not good. The bridge officers were uncertain about their careers, and the company, TOTE Services, had passed many of them over for assignments to newer ships intended to replace El Faro. The management of TOTE had turned over, with experienced shoreside staff replaced with “numbers men” who had no maritime experience. El Faro officers literally had no one to talk to, and once the ship was in trouble, past ship modifications doomed them and regulations and inspections failed to protect them. El Faro was originally designed as a roll-on/roll-off ship, carrying trailers in the belly like a ferry, but was lengthened by 90 feet and converted to carry containers on deck. This changed the waterline height, flooding angle, and center of gravity. It should have been considered a “major modification,” which would have triggered upgrades to current safety standards including enclosed life boats, but under pressure from the ship’s owners, the USCG and American Bureau of Shipping regulators backed off. One light shines through—the USCG Search and Rescue operation and their Rescue Swimmer Training Program. The USCG had proactively stationed extra air crew on Great Inagua Island in the Bahamas in advance of the storm. In the end, they couldn’t locate El Faro in time but tried heroically to do so. Only 28 minutes passed between the first distress messages from El Faro and the enormous thud detected by the U.S. Navy’s hydrophones off Andros Island. Position reports were conflicting and out of date, and drift models don’t work well in 120-knot winds. If only El Faro had had the current generation of emergency beacon (EPIRB), which broadcasts a GPS position, instead of the older version, which does not. That and everything else—if only.
Ocean Sailing: The Offshore Cruising Experience with Real-life Practical Advice with members of the Royal Cruising Club, Ocean Cruising Club, Cruising Club of America ***
by Paul Heiney published by the rcc pilotage foundation and adlard coles nautical ( an imprint of bloomsbury publishing plc ) , 2019
Review by Amanda Balasubramanian, Great Lakes Station
s we were preparing for our first significant offshore passage in 2013, I read every book about ocean sailing I could find. There were a few very helpful books full of technical information, but I longed for personal stories from those who had gone before us. I spoke to as many people as I could about their personal offshore experiences but, living in Toronto, offshore sailors are few and far between. When I opened Ocean Sailing by Paul Heiney a few weeks ago, I realized that I had finally found the book that I had been looking for. In Ocean Sailing, the author sets out to provide practical advice about the realities of ocean sailing. With many anecdotes and stories from cruisers with extensive bluewater experience (at least seventeen of whom are CCA members), he covers topics that most sailors wonder or worry about before a significant offshore passage. The book opens with a review of the world’s great ocean passages, with details and personal stories from cruisers who have sailed those same miles. He discusses in depth the pros and cons of the various offshore boat designs and shares sailors’ stories about what they chose and why it was (or wasn’t) right for their adventures. So often, financial concerns keep the would-be ocean sailor on the dock or close to shore. The book provides an analysis of the costs of full-time cruising, with some reference points on how to keep costs down and plan for contingencies. It’s “not a question of asking if you can afford it,” the author writes, “but making sailing plans that fit into the money that you already have.” Several families share their feelings about the positive effects of voyaging on both children and adults. Having spent a year cruising with our children when they were seven and nine, I found these stories to be honest reflections of the joys (and challenges) of offshore sailing with children.
Paul Heiney also addresses a question we all may ask ourselves at some point: Am I too old to go to sea? Stories from sailors who have accomplished significant ocean passages in their senior years provide an encouraging backdrop for the premise that, “providing you feel like it, and you’re fit enough for it, there is no reason why age is any barrier to successful ocean sailing.” Practical chapters on communications, general engineering, and physical wellbeing are followed by individual accounts of mishaps—good information for preventing or preparing for similar situations on your own boat. Each of the sailors reveals what they did right or wrong in difficult circumstances and suggests ways to avoid the particular situation in the first place. The author concludes the book with a topic that isn’t often discussed—what it’s like when the adventure is over and you are back at the dock. The poignant accounts of returning to life on land will be familiar to those who have experienced the end of an incredible adventure. Our own return was heavy with emotion and a sense of loss of freedom, so these stories hit home. But as Paul Heiney says, the sadness is tempered by appreciation for the life-changing adventure you just accomplished, which is the “tricky bit because, without the slightest shadow of doubt, you will want to do it all over again.” Ocean Sailing recognizes that there is no one way to cross oceans—it is as individual as it gets. Each skipper is the captain of her own ship and needs to make the decisions that are right for her boat, her crew, and her course. As you read through the many firsthand accounts, you feel as though you are sitting in a cockpit sharing a sundowner with friends, exchanging ideas and experiences. If you take a little from each story, you will find yourself well-armed with ideas and that much closer to your dream of crossing oceans. issue 62 2020
Final Voyages Edited by Maggie Salter (BOS/GMP) and Jack Griswold (BOS/GMP)
James D. Bishop
Thomas E. Hazlehurst
Robert A. Van Blaricom
Richard St. Clair Salsman
Robert A. Lawrence
John Biddle Sinclair
Hugh Beebe Caldara
W. Wallace Stone
Arthur C. Milot
E. Kirkland Cooper
Eric P. Williams
J. Wooderson Glenn
Preston B. Zillgitt
James D. Bishop 1933–2018
im Bishop’s passions were many. Foremost was his wonderful wife of 63 years, Bobbie; their family— son, Jim Jr.; daughters, Bobbie Jr., Linda, and Betsy; and nine grandchildren. Building his business, Caithness Energy, utilized his entrepreneurial spirit in ventures that included oil, gas, renewable energy, mining, and cattle breeding. Jim enjoyed hunting and fishing, but his true passion was sailing. He grew up as a single child on a one-house island off Saybrook, Connecticut. At age 14, a pal asked if he’d like to go for a ride on his boat. That day, Jim got hooked on sailing, and, subsequently, sailboat racing. He became affiliated with Niantic Bay Yacht Club in East Lyme, Connecticut, winning club and regional championships. After graduating from Kent, then 204
James D. Bishop
Yale in 1956, he became a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy, where he was assistant to the executive officer of the U.S. submarine base in New London, Connecticut, during the launch of the U.S. atomic submarine program. He attended Harvard Business School, then began his business career in New York City.
Jim sailed in the frostbite series at Larchmont Yacht Club, where he met Jim Mertz, Arthur Knapp, and Corny Shields, the founder of the International One Design (IOD) class. Under their guidance, he purchased an IOD, raced, and became a cheerleader for this class for 30 years. He represented western Long Island Sound in fleets, both nationally and internationally. With encouragement from the IOD fleet, he built the first fiberglass IOD, with careful attention to weight and speed, assimilating into the class without disrupting fair competition with the existing wooden boats. Jim instilled his love for the class to countless sailors. Many went on to purchase a boat of their own, including Jim Jr., who crewed for his dad, starting at age seven. Jim and Jim Jr. are the only father-and-son team who have separately won Bermuda Race Week in the IOD class. Jim competed in 30 Newport Bermuda races. His enjoyment of
offshore sailing, and his experience with one-design sailing, inspired him to purchase his J-44, Gold Digger. He pioneered the modern era of big-boat one-design racing, establishing the J-44 class, and was chairman of the class for 25 years. This class was the first offshore fleet to have one-design racing sails, and the first to have their own class start in the Newport Bermuda Race, beginning in 1994. For many years, Jim served on the Bermuda Race Organizing Committee as a key member of the Participation Committee. His leadership in our sport and contributions to friends and crew, young and old, were extraordinary. In 2013, Jim received the New York Yacht Club and Storm Trysail Club John B. Thompson, Jr. Award, citing his campaign excellence, Corinthian spirit, sportsmanship, and camaraderie. He served as director and commodore of the Storm Trysail Club, and in April 2015, he was inducted into the STC Legacy of Distinguished Sailors. To inspire sailing’s next generation, Jim became involved in STC Junior Safety at Sea programs and the STC Collegiate Offshore Regatta. He donated the J-44 Glory to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, assisting cadets with training for local, and, subsequently, offshore campaigns. The cadet captain of Glory told the 400 people assembled for the opening dinner of the 2011 NYYC summer cruise that his involvement with the Newport Bermuda Race was “one of the most important leadership experiences at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.” He had Jim to thank for that! Jim was also honored to serve on the board of the Intrepid Museum and the Mystic Seaport Museum. Traditionally, at the end of a magic cruise or a magnificent regatta, Jim’s friends, crew, and guests would express their deepest appreciation for his hospitality and generosity, to which Jim would respond with a twinkle in his eye, “You know, friends, it would not be any fun doing this all by myself!” He described his well-lived life in
the recently published autobiography, A Hell of a Hook. It is a wonderful read by a sailor who touched the lives of so many with his leadership, generous hospitality, and unparalleled camaraderie. John D. Osmond
Robert A. Van Blaricom 1930–2019
ob Van Blaricom was born and spent his childhood in Montana. At the end of World War II, at age 14, he moved to Tiburon, California. Bob and his brother, Skip, lived with their father, who worked in the Sausalito shipyard during the war. When he saw the saltwater and realized that boating adventures were right at his new doorstep, Bob said, “It was love at first sight.” So began Bob’s lifelong love affair with boating, and, eventually, blue-water sailing. Bob owned a series of boats for most of his life, beginning with a 10foot redwood skiff that he rigged as a sailboat. With his teenage friends, he sailed around Tiburon and across Raccoon Straits to Angel Island. Blue water beckoned, and Bob began his long-distance cruising with a voyage down the coast of California in 1948. In 1952, he took time off from the University of California engineering school and crewed on the yacht Tai Fung to Hawaii and back. Bob wrote in his memoir, Time and Tide, that when he sailed back under the Golden Gate that summer, “I knew that I had found my true interest in life.” Together with Jane, his wife of 58 years, Bob followed his passion. Jane, for many years the “first lady” of the San Francisco Station, supported Bob in his yachting adventures and as rear commodore, first in 1978 and later in 2007. The couple were awarded the SAF Cruisers of the Year award in 1994 for their cruise onboard Sea Bear. Bob and lifelong friend Pete Passano (BOS/GMP) built Sea Bear,
a 39-foot steel sloop, behind their houses on Gallinas Creek in San Rafael, California. The keel-laying ceremony took place in January 1988. Two-and-ahalf years later, in June 1990, Bob, Pete, Bob’s daughter Anne, and her future husband, Steve, set sail onboard Sea Bear toward Hawaii and beyond. For the next four years, Bob, Pete, and their friends and families sailed Sea Bear to Alaska, the South Pacific, and Australia. In 1994, in Sydney, Bob sold his share of Sea Bear to Pete, who still owns and sails her extensively, logging over 100,000 miles to date. Not bad for a home-built boat.
Robert A. Van Blaricom
Pete Passano recalled: “Bob and I were partners on three different boats for over 20 years. I can’t remember us ever having a disagreement. He was an inspiration and a mentor, honest as the day is long and as genuine and true as can be. What a friend! Bob had forgotten more about cruising on a sailboat then I would ever know. And what fun to be aboard with him! Never a cross word and always a laugh. After Jane passed, he sold his boat. My wife, Marina, and I invited him to come east and join us on Sea Bear. He came for four consecutive summers and we cruised the coasts of Maine and New Brunswick. We miss Bob, but I am pleased in knowing that he and Jane are together again.” Jane and Bob acquired their last sailboat, Misty, an Aires 32, in 1995, issue 62 2020
but their appetite for cruising was not limited to blue water. To cruise the inland waterways, they shipped Misty overland to Florida and sailed her north. At the end of that cruise, in Duluth, Minnesota, Misty was trucked back to San Francisco. Bob frequently sailed Misty to Alaska and back, the last time in April 2008, when he left her in Valdez, Prince William Sound, bringing her back in June 2009. During his Alaska cruises, Bob suffered eye problems which left him with poor eyesight. This forced him to sell Misty to an experienced sailor from South Africa, where she now claims Johannesburg as her homeport. Bob turned to power and purchased a diminutive motorboat he named Lollipop. Bob, or as his friends knowingly called him, “lucky Bob,” received a number of CCA awards, including the Vilas Literary Prize in 2001; Royal Cruising Club Trophy in 2008; Richard S. Nye Trophy in 2010; and the Parkinson Memorial Trophy in 1990 and 1996. In a March 11, 2019, letter, Bob explained how much he owed to the club. TO ALL MEMBERS CRUISING CLUB OF AMERICA This is a farewell letter to all members and my many friends I have sailed with, worked with and enjoyed since becoming a member of the CCA 55 years ago on 1 January, 1964. The Club has been a hugely important part of my life, and that of my wife Jane, son Robby and daughter Anne. What great memories I have of the many Club and Station cruises Jane and I have enjoyed. I am fortunate that I have been able to participate in various positions in the Club and San Francisco Station over the years. But mostly I am thankful for all the friends who have shared their lives and times with me. I can tell you that there is no greater pleasure than introducing new sailors to the Club, have them
join and watch them grow. As a young lad from Montana, I was lucky in my early years after coming to Tiburon to have met men who introduced me to sailing, racing, celestial navigation, and marlinspike seamanship. These mentors, many of whom were Club members, included me in offshore Bluewater Sailing and ultimately in the CCA. To my many friends, please enjoy a glass on your next cruise as I have with you so many times. I hope you all find the Time and Tide. Fair Sailing, Bob Bob Van Blaricom, Peter Passano, Bob Hanelt, Zia Ahari, and Don Bekins
David Brittain 1924–2017
avid Collins Brittain died on October 12, 2017. Raised in Winnetka, Illinois, David spent much of his childhood sailing and racing boats on the North Shore of Lake Michigan. He graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy in 1943 and completed a four-year program in three years at Yale University. With degrees in mechanical and electrical engineering, David joined Yardley of London in 1946, where he held many positions over 18 years. In 1959, he married Isabel Jones and adopted her two sons before they had a third child together. After a brief period with WarnerLambert, a job offer from Maybelline brought David and Isabel to Memphis in 1970. Among his many accomplishments, he was responsible for creating the iconic pink-and-green Great Lash Mascara, which in 1972 was Maybelline’s first major new product. The company quickly saw success under his leadership, and in 1982 David was awarded Marketer of the Year by the American Marketing Association. An avid sailor, David was elected
to the Cruising Club of America in 1959. He was also a member of the New York Yacht Club and the Riverside (Connecticut) Yacht Club. He captained Alledra, the family yawl, to fourth overall and fourth in class (D) in the 1958 Bermuda Race. The New York Times erroneously reported that the boat and crew had been lost at sea; they had merely taken a different route. Alledra was a 40-foot keel/centerboard S&S design, built by Nevins Yacht Yard. Her hull was varnished, unmatched mahogany. David earned his pilot’s license at the age of 50, and would often fly a few loops in his Pitts Special aerobatic bi-wing plane before arriving at his desk at 7:30 a.m. Due to a medical condition, he ultimately had to give up his pilot’s license. Proving he would not be slowed, David bought a 1984 Porsche 911S immediately after selling his beloved plane. Always one to tinker, he built impressive metalsmithing and woodworking shops in his home. Isabel was an artist, and David would say, “Isabel is the creator of the new; I’m the fixer of the old.” At the time of his retirement in 1990, David was president of Maybelline of North America. He and Isabel decided to settle down in Sarasota, Florida, where they lived for the remainder of their lives. He enjoyed cruising in a Nonsuch 32, Wildcard. Until her passing in 1995, David
enjoyed traveling the world with Isabel. He also enjoyed spending time with his “toys”—his Porsche, his power and sailboats, a moped, a Segway, many digital cameras, and his Macintosh computer. Never one to stop learning, David taught himself Photoshop in his mid-eighties, a tool he often used to hilariously manipulate pictures of his family and friends. He was always on the move, and was actively working out with a beloved group of trainers right until his passing. David is survived by his three sons, seven grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. Dawn Brittain
Hugh Beebe Caldara 1945–2018
ugh Beebe Caldara, longtime member of the Essex and Boston stations, sailed his final voyage to the unknown shore on October 18, 2018, at the much-too-young age of 73. He left behind the love of his life, his wife Joanne, and legions of friends. Hugh was happiest at the helm of any sailboat in a breeze. His extraordinary seamanship skills, marvelous good humor, and fine storytelling gifts made him the perfect shipmate on long and short passages. Hugh sailed in many blue-water races and cruises, including several Bermuda races. Hugh grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut, sailing and working on his dad’s beloved Concordia sloop, Baroda, and many other vessels, out of Indian Harbor Yacht Club. He graduated from the Taft School in 1964 and Coe College in 1968. After serving a tour in the U.S. Navy, he completed a master’s degree in history at Wesleyan University before he and Joanne moved to The Gunnery school in Washington, Connecticut, where Hugh began his career and his calling as an educator. He was a gifted and dedicated history teacher, varsity football and hockey coach, and athletic director for 41 years at Gunnery. He
Hugh Beebe Caldara
inspired countless students to reach higher than they thought possible. A classroom in Gunnery’s Tisch Family Library, where Hugh often taught, was dedicated and named in his honor by the Class of 2014. Hugh was inducted into the Gunnery Athletic Hall of Fame, and was a past president of the New England Prep School Athletic Council Football Coaches’ Association, where an annual award was also named in his honor. Hugh became a CCA member in 1979, and for 11 consecutive years, from 1984 to 1994, he enthusiastically served on what was then known as the Bermuda Race Committee. He was also a member of the Storm Trysail Club, New York Yacht Club, and the Wadawanuck Club in Stonington, Connecticut. Hugh inspired many, both on and off the water, and was a friend and gentleman in the truest sense of the words. He is deeply missed. Ted Scheu
David Chandler 1948–2019
n July 10, 2019, David Chandler, 71, of Meadowbrook Orchards, Sterling, Massachusetts, died peacefully in his sleep after a short illness.
In addition to his wife of 49 years, Katharine Reynolds (Kathy) Chandler (step-daughter of Steve Parson, BOS), David is survived by his brothers, John (BOS/GMP) and Peter (BOS/GMP) Chandler; his sister, Brookie McColloch; three children and seven grandchildren. David grew up on Meadowbrook Orchards, the family’s apple orchard. He graduated from Brooks School in 1966 and from Boston University in 1970. He then took over the farm, becoming the fourth generation of Chandlers to run Meadowbrook. As a boy, he spent summers in Small Point, Maine, where he learned to sail small boats and built his own eightfoot plywood pram, powered by a mast made of electrical conduit and a sail made of a transparent shower curtain.
He enjoyed many years of sailing and racing with friends and family along the New England coast, and from Canada to Bermuda. He found particular joy in providing and preparing gourmet meals for the crew when racing and cruising. David learned about ocean racing aboard Jim Madden’s Gesture, sailing with CCA veterans Paul Perkins, Nick Winslow, and many others. It was on Gesture that he acquired his skill and reputation as a superb ship’s cook. In the 1970s and 1980s, David raced regularly on Jeff Eberle’s (BOS) Cilista. He served as cook for Cilista’s crews issue 62 2020
on three Newport Bermuda races and several Marblehead Halifax races. David was honored to sail the 1990 Bermuda Race with past commodores Jim and Sheila McCurdy (BOS) and family aboard Selkie. David played an integral role in many agricultural organizations, serving as a trustee of the Massachusetts Society for Promoting Agriculture, a past president and active member of the Massachusetts Fruit Growers Association, a trustee of the University of Massachusetts Cold Spring Orchard Research and Education Center, and an active member of the Massachusetts Farm Bureau. He played an important role in bringing new developments to the apple industry, and was seen as a leader in the field of integrated pest management, an ecologically based systems approach to solving pest problems in agriculture. He also was a past member of the Sterling Planning Board. In his younger years, he skied regularly with his wife, Kathy, and officiated at ski races around New England for all of his children. He was a member of the Hochgebirge Ski Club in Franconia, New Hampshire. Tending his garden, cooking for his family, being with his dogs, feeding all of the birds in the area, and hosting many, many wonderful parties over the years were just a few things that made David happy. Peter Chandler
E. Kirkland Cooper 1932–2018
dmund Kirkland “Kirk” Cooper, a member of the CCA since 1982, first rear commodore of the Cruising Club’s Bermuda Station, and a past commodore of the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, sailed his final voyage on November 30, 2018. He was 86 years old. The Cooper family is one of
E. Kirkland Cooper
Bermuda’s oldest and most prominent, with the earliest Cooper ancestor arriving in 1662. Kirk served as board chairman for the family’s A.S. Cooper & Sons department stores, but carved out an independent career as an auditor and financial advisor. He co-founded the accounting firm Cooper and Lines in 1959, and retired as a managing partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers Bermuda. Like many Bermudians, Kirk Cooper’s life outside of business revolved around the water. He began as a champion schoolboy swimmer, but switched to sailing and never looked back. The cedar-paneled den at Windfall, Kirk and Helen Cooper’s classic Bermuda home overlooking Hamilton Harbour, is filled with trophies, models, and mementos from Kirk’s seven decades as one of Bermuda’s most successful international sailors. Windfall has hosted countless gatherings of CCA friends and racing crews over the decades. He began his Newport Bermuda Race career in 1950 at age 18, sailing aboard the radical 40-foot strip-planked sloop Dirigo, which Cooper—and Dirigo’s designer himself—described as little more than a blown-up version of the Raven, McAleer’s 24-foot planing centerboard dinghy. That was the first of more than 20 races to Bermuda he took part in, spanning more than 50 years, often as skipper of one of a series of
yachts he named Alphida after his three oldest children. Kirk could sail anything that floated, and sail it better than almost anyone. He represented Bermuda in the 1964, 1968, and 1972 Olympic games, coming heartbreakingly close to medaling in the Dragon in 1964, only to be nudged off the podium by sailmaker Lowell North in the final race. With his deliberative but decisive manner, Kirk was much in demand as a jury member for international racing events, with the high point coming as a member of the jury for the 1983 America’s Cup, when, after 132 years, Australia lifted the America’s Cup from the New York Yacht Club. Kirk may have been congenial and outgoing, but he was very much in charge of his own yachts, no matter who else was aboard. I learned that the hard way the first time I sailed with him as his navigator in the 1989 Marion Bermuda Race. Running dead downwind in heavy air and a lump of sea at night, Kirk was off watch, with his thundering snore echoing through the boat. A wind shift found us by the lee on the course line, and as tactician and navigator, I called for a gybe. It did not go as well as it should have and with the sails complaining loudly, Kirk leapt from his berth and asked (and I paraphrase here), “What the heck is going on?” I said that we had just gybed. Kirk asked, rather loudly, “Who called for the gybe?” There was silence throughout the boat and on deck, although no one was asleep. “I did,” says I, from my perch at the nav station. Giving me a gaze that suggested something other than warm feelings, he declared (once again, I paraphrase), “It’s my boat, and I’ll decide when we gybe.” Lesson learned. We became and remained fast friends, sailing thousands of miles together over the next two decades. It was sometimes easy to forget that the hard-driving, personable man who lived for sailing was also a distinguished gentleman and a leader in Bermuda’s civic and business life, a man who had
been named an officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth II. Kirk was equally at home in these parallel but overlapping worlds, and equally fluent in the language and customs of both. But he seemed most comfortable, and most at home, with his hand on the helm of a racing sailboat, squinting up at the sails and around at the competition, willing the boat forward without apparent effort while a practiced crew silently followed his directions. And he always, in life and in sailing, called his own gybes. Nick Nicholson
J. Wooderson Glenn 1937–2018
oody passed away at 81 years after a long illness, surrounded by family and friends. He was born on Long Island as the oldest of four siblings in a large sailing family. He lived in Syosset, Bayville, and Center Island, near the water his whole life. In college and graduate school, he studied physics. He was a nuclear engineer and physicist at Brookhaven Laboratory on Long Island for 58 years, famous for his uncanny ability to solve engineering problems. Nobel Prizes were won because he kept the “Atom Smasher” running. Woody’s sailing life started at the age of eight at the Seawanhaka Junior Club in Oyster Bay, Long Island, and for 73 years he was a fixture at the club, known simply as “Uncle Woody.” Over the years, he helped hundreds of sailors develop their skills and love of the sport. He was also a devoted family man. He married Glenny Oelsner, a fellow Seawanhaka Junior Club alum, in 1969, and together they raised three wonderful children—James (“Woody”), Hope, and Edward (“Ned”), all of whom have his love of the water in their genes, as do his grandchildren. Woody, a CCA member for 51
years, joined in 1967, after transatlantic passages and multiple Bermuda races, including two on Winnie of Bourne with longtime CCA historian Jack Parkinson. As an engineer, he could always figure out how to fix things. In the 1963 Transatlantic Race on Sitzmark, the engine caught fire in the middle of the ocean. As the crew ran around preparing the life raft, Woody calmly hanged over the burning engine, isolating one wire after another until the electrical fire was out. Woody then repaired the burned engine, and they went on to finish the race. Woody’s cruising continued with his growing family on (nearly) annual family voyages along the New England coast, from western Long Island Sound to Maine. Later in life, Woody occasionally cruised those same waters with his elder son on a wooden Herreshoff, Rosentee— traditionally equipped with a cedar bucket. Woody’s greatest skill was as crew
J. Wooderson Glenn
on small boats. He was part of national championship crews four times, in Ravens in the 1960s and Shields in the 1980s, sailing with other Seawanhaka members. He was a driving force in cementing the Laser dingy fleet at Seawanhaka. A pied piper, he found and resurrected broken Laser hulls for the young-and-interested-to-borrow. His hope was to get them hooked on the
Laser fleet, and on Seawanhaka, through sunset Laser sails and frostbiting. Woody continued frostbiting at Seawanhaka in Lasers well into his late 70s. During his last 15 years, his real love was sailing Flounder, a Herreshoff Fish class with a gaff rig, which he rescued from destruction and brought back to racing condition. Woody so impressed his contemporaries at Seawanhaka with his singlehanded cruising and racing of the nimble boat that within a couple of years, he had taken the Fish at Seawanhaka from one broken hull to a fleet of six in regular competition. Later, almost blind but with a loyal crew’s help, Woody helmed Flounder to a season championship in the Oyster Bay Wednesday evening series, much to the consternation of his more modern competitors. Woody introduced his three grandchildren to sailing on Flounder, creating cherished memories and passing the love of cruising on to yet another generation. Woody, along with his brother Larry (BOS/NBP) and his sisters-in-law Anne Glenn (BOS/NBP) and Maxie Glenn, created the William Glenn Memorial Trophy for family participation in the Bermuda Race to recognize the special bonds created when families race and cruise together. His love of sailing, sailors, and family was at the center of a long and productive life. Ned Glenn and Ian Gumprecht
Thomas E. Hazlehurst 1934–2018
homas Edgar Hazlehurst, 84, of Wakefield, Rhode Island, and formerly of North Kingstown, sailed away peacefully on a sunny Saturday morning, November 17, 2018. After high school at LaSalle Academy, he attended Brown University, graduating in 1956. He was the captain of the Brown Sailing Team in 1955 and 1956. He was also a member of issue 62 2020
Thomas E. Hazlehurst
the Brown University Athletic Hall of Fame, a member of the Intercollegiate Yacht Racing Hall of Fame, a winner of the 1956 Olympic Finn Dinghy Trials, and a finalist for the 1956 Olympics. He was married to Carol Kenyon for 27 years until her death in 2014. He had three daughters: Lynn Hazlehurst, Nancy Deutsch, and Pam Thompson. Tom enjoyed cruising Martha’s Vineyard and the islands in the summer, on what became known as Kiddie Cruise, with eight-to-ten other families and their boats. He also enjoyed cruising the U.S. and British Virgin Islands with his family. After college, Tom served in the U.S. Navy from 1956 to 1959. He then went to work for Ralph Potter as a copywriter. It was basically just the two of them in Ralph’s small advertising agency, but they grew it to become a very successful company, employing over 70 people. He retired in 1995 as CEO of Potter Hazlehurst, the largest independent advertising, marketing, and public relations agency in Rhode Island. Tom was an avid sailor from the age of 11, when his parents bought him a Beetle Cat to keep him off the streets of Providence. He went on to win many Beetle Cat championships with his boat, Jeepers, and many collegiate championships. As an advertising executive, one of his favorite clients was Pearson Yachts, 210
and since he was such a gifted skipper, each summer for many years Pearson gave him a boat to campaign and help sell the brand. He won many Narragansett Bay championships, Block Island Race Weeks, and Storm Trysail races. He also sailed in many Newport Bermuda races with friends Everett Pearson, Bob Read, Avery Seaman (BOS), and Ronnie Boss, to name a few. His favorite boats were the two Pearsons that he owned, a 365 and a 386, each named Baggywrinkle. He also loved his Dyer 29, Rascal, which he had for almost 20 years. Much of Tom’s life was dedicated to promoting sailing and the ocean. He served as president of the Narragansett Bay Yachting Association. He was the founding secretary of Save the Bay; commodore of the East Greenwich Yacht Club; member of the Rhode Island State Yachting Committee; and trustee, fleet captain, and House Committee chair of the New York Yacht Club. He was elected into the Cruising Club of America in 1992 and served as chairman and fleet captain of the Bermuda Race. Avery Seaman recalled that Tom skippered a Catalina 37 in two Congressional Cups with a crew of Narragansett Bay sailors. Ross Sherbrooke (BOS) first met Tom around 1954 when they were both competing for the right to represent New England in the Mallory Cup. They worked together on the 1996 Bermuda Race, Tom as chair, and Ross as treasurer. “We hit it off from day one as though we had been in the same boat for 50 years,” Ross remembered. “We jury-rigged as needed to get over the inevitable bumps leading up to the race, and the laughs and luck cemented our friendship. Carol was involved in the success of the race as well. In Bermuda after the race, she cooked up a blowout dinner for all involved, which made her ‘the spaghetti lady’ forever. Tom has been a friend to count on, generous to a fault with his time, talents, and mind. He handled his adversities with humor and never let them interfere. He was of good cheer, with a light touch, and lots
of laughs. And the harder it blew, the more you were glad to be with him.” Nancy Deutsch
Jakob Isbrandtsen 1922–2018
ormer shipping executive, founding chairman of South Street Seaport Museum, and blue-water sailor, Jakob Isbrandtsen, 96, died on July 13, 2018. He was born in Brooklyn and graduated from the Brooklyn Friends School. He learned to sail on Two Brothers, an 18-foot scaled version of a two-masted brig, complete with yards and square sails, on Great South Bay, Long Island. He served in the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters. After the war, he went into ship
chartering and then joined his father in the shipping business, becoming head of Isbrandtsen Company upon his father’s death in 1953. He oversaw the business through the industry’s transformation from break-bulk shipping to containerization and the beginnings of fully integrated transportation services in the 1960s. This included merging Isbrandtsen Company with the publicly traded American Export Lines. In the early 1970s, he left American Export
Lines and returned to ship chartering and maritime arbitration before his retirement. In 1953, he moved with his family to Riverside, Connecticut. He maintained an eclectic fleet of boats in Greenwich Cove, opening his world to his children and, once basic seamanship was in place, setting few limits beyond the harbor. His love of the sea and sailing permeated everything he did, from ocean racing to boat maintenance. He sailed in every Bermuda Race from 1936 through 1970 except during the war years, winning his class several times. He completed at least five Transatlantic races starting in 1960, competed in Cowes in 1961 for the American team, and won the Admiral’s Cup on Windrose, a S&S yawl that he had built. In 1965, when he was commodore of the Storm Trysail Club, he and Everett Morris launched Block Island Race Week, combining competitive racing with shore activities that fostered lifelong friendships. He won the SORC in 1971 on Running Tide, a 65-foot S&S sloop he had also built. He was skipper, navigator, and cook aboard all of his boats on all races. He was sailing the yawl Windrose in galeforce winds on the 1960 Transatlantic Race from Bermuda to Sweden when the aluminum mizzen mast sheared off completely halfway across. In those days, it was required that each boat call in to report their position, so he reported, “This is the sloop Windrose calling in.” He was the founding chairman of the South Street Seaport Museum, dedicated to the preservation of New York’s maritime history. He financed the purchase of the ship Wavertree, when she might have otherwise gone to scrap. He concocted complex real estate deals that purchased the land for the South Street Seaport Historic District. He also established the Ship Trust of New York Inc. in support of the volunteer restoration of historic ships. He was proudest of his role as head of
the volunteer workforce that met every Saturday for a full day aboard Wavertree, doing the work that the Seaport could not afford to pay. He called it “long hours, dirty work, and no pay” but he provided a hot lunch for all of them every Saturday which he cooked himself. He was elected to the CCA in 1959. For at least ten years, he prepared and cooked a hot lunch aboard the Nantucket Lightship for over 100 CCA members every fall. He counted on his children to serve and clean up; they were not amused. He was a member of the New York Yacht Club, Indian Harbor Yacht Club, Royal Ocean Racing Club, Bermuda Dinghy Club, Royal Scandinavian Yacht Club, Royal Danish Yacht Club, the Island Sailing Club at Cowes, and the Shore Club, Norwalk. His family always thought he was much more dangerous in shallow water than deep, and a complete menace on land. He tended to be casual about using charts or remembering hazards to navigation. He was still sailing at age 90 in his Tartan 34, Bagpiper. One Sunday, he took his four daughters sailing in Norwalk Harbor and promptly ran up on the rocks. He got the boat off and sailed on. He was predeceased by his first wife, Patricia Isbrandtsen. He is survived by his wife, Marilyn King, seven children, nine grandchildren, six great grandchildren, and five stepchildren. His daughter Ellen reflected that he “would most like to be remembered as a competent seaman. Without doubt, anyone who sailed with him admired his skills and enjoyed sailing with him. You would always want him in your lifeboat because he would see you home, no matter what.” Maggie Salter and Ellen Sykes
Robert A. Lawrence 1926–2019
ob Lawrence sailed his last voyage on September 4, 2019. He was born in Boston on August 11, 1926, and was graduated from the Park School in 1939 and Noble and Greenough School in 1944. During WWII, he enlisted in the Navy and attended Williams College under its V-12 program. When the program was discontinued in 1945, Bob chose to attend Yale University, so as to graduate with a USMCR commission in 1947. The following year, he and his beloved Patricia Perrin were married. Bob was recalled by the Marines to serve in the Korean War, where he received the Bronze Star. Upon returning to the U.S., he worked for Estabrook & Co., Loomis Sayles, Saltonstall & Co., and State Street Research and Management, where he became one of six managing partners. His other business activities included serving on numerous boards. He also supported the work of many nonprofits.
Robert A. Lawrence
Known to most of his friends as Bobby, he loved the adventure and challenges of the sea. He began serious sailing as a young adult after meeting Patsy, who had been a talented sailor since childhood. His first boat was a 24foot Crosby Striper bass boat named Sea Fever, purchased in the mid-1960s. This issue 62 2020
boat slept two, and Bobby would take each of his children, individually, off for a very special cruising weekend. Bob’s second boat was a high-performance inboard/outboard Ray Hunt-design fishing boat named Ring Leader, and his third was another powerboat named Sea Witch. Fishing was a key interest for Bob, but he married a sailor. He and Patsy bought a Cheoy Lee ketch, also Sea Witch, in 1980. He especially enjoyed exploring the coasts of Maine and Nova Scotia, staying clear of marinas and crowded harbors. He and Patsy raced in the Marion to Bermuda race in 1985, 1995, and 2001. Patsy and Bob crossed the Atlantic in a Hinckley 42 sloop, also called Sea Witch. They departed from Marion, Massachusetts, on June 17, 1989, in an informal race with two other sailboats, including a Hinckley 48 yawl owned by John and Nancy McKelvy (BOS). The night before leaving, a party was held for the Ireland-bound fleet, a prize for the winner was displayed, and everyone was excited to get off the following morning. The next day dawned with solid fog. The committee boat sounded the start at 10:02 EDT, and the three boats disappeared into the fog with 2,700 miles to go to Bantry Bay. On Sunday, July 9, all three boats entered Bantry Bay. For this passage, Bob was awarded the John Parkinson Memorial Trophy. Bobby and Patsy then cruised Ireland, Scotland, Norway, and Sweden. After returning Sea Witch home to New England, they sailed to the Canadian Maritimes, Newfoundland, and Labrador “in search of icebergs and a polar bear” (they never did find the latter). Bob was elected to the Cruising Club of America in 1987. He served as rear commodore of the Boston Station for two years and led the station’s Nominating Committee for an additional two. Bob and Patsy’s last boat was Sea Fever, a Mark Ellis-designed Nonsuch. Commodore Brad Willauer remembers: “In the mid-1990s, Bob and Patsy chose to cruise Newfoundland, 212
circumnavigating clockwise. The late Bill Saltonstall and I were lucky enough to be invited along for the passage from Sydney to St. Anthony. Having cooked a few Bermuda races, I thought I could be helpful in the galley of Sea Witch. No chance, as Patsy ran the galley expertly. Alongside the pier in Flowers Cove, riding an easterly blow, Bob invited all the local kids aboard for a look around. The front page of the local newspaper showed a full-page photo of Sea Witch with the kids aboard.” Throughout his life, Bob was known for his integrity, insight, compassion, and graciousness. He was the consummate gentleman, generous in spirit and time, committed to the betterment of his community. His marriage to Patsy was a true partnership; together they lived life to its fullest, balancing work, family, philanthropy, and pleasure. Despite their numerous accomplishments, they viewed their family as their most notable. Patsy Lawrence and Nancy McKelvy
Roy Megargel 1930–2018
oy Curtis Megargel, a member of Chesapeake Station, slipped his earthly moorings on September 22, 2018. A tall, good-natured fellow with an easy manner and a ready smile, he spent a tenth of his 88 years cruising with his wife, Diane, aboard his beloved Cal 39, Artemis, one of Bill Lapworth’s best performance cruisers. He bought Artemis in 1987, and in 1990 retired and took her down to Key West for Christmas, spending the next few months preparing for a transatlantic passage. During their sail from Bermuda to the Azores, they encountered a Russian tanker, which radioed, “Is nice to see sailing boat on big ocean.” Roy and Diane passed the Eddystone Light on a sojourn to Plymouth before a leisurely visit to
Ireland. They sailed north through the Caledonian Canal to the North Sea, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Holland, Belgium, and up the Seine for a winter in Paris. The next winter was spent in Mallorca. With visits to Corsica, Sardinia, Italy, and Sicily in her logbook, Artemis weathered a sixday, 60-knot “meltemi” windstorm in Greece. She spent the following winter with the friendly people of Kusadasi, Turkey. Sailing west through the Med, they stopped in Madeira and the Canaries before sailing across the Atlantic to Barbados, covering 2,825 nautical miles in 25 days. They topped off their nine-year grand tour in Artemis with a southern swing from Port St. Lucie, Florida, to Martinique, then down the island chain to Trinidad, before heading home to Baltimore. Born on September 5, 1930, Roy was the son of a yacht broker on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. He was too young for service in WWII, but very conscious of a city full of uniforms and the news of German U-boats laying mines and sinking ships just outside New York Harbor. He went to South Kent School in Connecticut before attending Dartmouth, where he became a member of the ancient TriKap fraternity. He discovered his deep love of sailing on Cape Cod during college summers. With help from his lifelong friend, Bucky Barlow, he rebuilt
a hurricane-wrecked boat at Barlow’s Boatyard in Pocasset, Massachusetts. He named the boat Skate. He graduated from Dartmouth in 1952 with a major in English and a commission as a second lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps, since he had joined the Navy in 1948 as a midshipman in the Dartmouth NROTC unit. His Navy courses included seamanship, engineering (steam and diesel propulsion), gunnery (particularly important for a future Marine), and navigation (sextants, sunlines, and star sights). His summers included six-week stints aboard ships at Pensacola, Florida (aviation), and Little Creek, Virginia (amphibious operations). His obligated service included six months at Quantico, learning to lead Marines before serving stateside and being promoted to first lieutenant. Then it was off to Harvard Law School, where he discovered his love for admiralty law, graduating in 1957, just when American industry needed him most. He would become one of those rare lawyers who is very comfortable dealing with engineers and technical problems in a leadership role. The men who had shepherded their companies through the innovative, roaring twenties, depressed thirties, and frantic wartime forties wanted to retire and they were looking for broad-gauge young leaders. Even though Roy loved his first job practicing admiralty law, it did not take long for professional managers at General Telephone and Electronics Corporation (later to acquire Automatic Electric and Sylvania before becoming Verizon) to discover him. He rose quickly through that organization until he was hired away by General Tire International, where he eventually became president before retiring in 1988. After two transatlantics and living aboard Artemis for nine years, he became a member of CCA’s Chesapeake Station in January 2008. He was also a member of the Ocean Cruising Club. His friends in later years knew him as a perpetually cheerful, optimistic,
unflappable shipmate who seemed to relish every day, even a day ashore. He is survived by his wife, Diane; his children, Katie and Ralph; Diane’s children, Leslie and Craig; and five grandchildren. Roy is remembered and missed by them, and by all his friends and fellow sailors. Fred Hallett
Arthur C. Milot 1932–2019
rthur Charles Milot was born in Providence, Rhode Island, on November 7, 1932. He was graduated from Moses Brown School in 1951 and Harvard College in 1955, during which time he was also active in the Naval Reserves. He married Martha, his wife of 61 years, in 1957, and together they raised their family in Providence and Jamestown. After a stint with the brokerage firm of Kidder Peabody, he entered the family business, the Paragon Worsted Company of Olneyville, where he guided the company through the decline of the New England textile industry. In 1968, he purchased the Brewster Lumber Company, which became a Rhode Island institution and expanded across New England during his tenure. He was a director of Industrial National Bank and its successor, Fleet Financial Group, for many years. He served on the boards of the Boys Club of Providence, the United Way, and the Jamestown Planning Commission. Following his retirement in 1986, Arthur devoted himself to many philanthropic causes, particularly the Nature Conservancy, Animal Rescue Rhode Island, and the Potter League for Animals. Arthur’s passion for sailboats and sailing began when he was young and without the support of a sailing family. As a schoolboy, he found countless ways to get himself out on the water and into boats. He was lucky to have Halsey Herreshoff as a schoolmate, who
provided ample opportunity. Arthur’s preference for tradition and simplicity began early, and endured throughout his life. He was inspired by the classic appeal of wooden yachts and working vessels and was more comfortable on boats that have fewer mechanical systems. Although his wife didn’t know how to sail, Arthur’s patience, quiet encouragement, and his desire and ability to teach others so that they would be happy on board made sailing a family adventure. Camping in their Pearson Ensign, Arthur led expeditions to Narragansett Bay and the Elizabeth Islands with a Coleman stove, a cockpit tarp, and sleeping bags.
Arthur C. Milot
Arthur’s love of classic boats lured him into the beautiful Rhodes 27 (41 feet LOA), Vides Poches, and promises of cruises along the coast inspired the family to scrape, varnish, and otherwise care for her. Arthur valued maintaining the boat as well as sailing it. He built a no-nonsense 42-foot aluminum schooner, Vides Poches II, in the late 1970s, to expand his cruising range to the New Brunswick and Nova Scotia coastlines, and tackled offshore passages to Canada, around the top of Cape Breton, and to Bermuda. In 1983, he embarked on a twoyear Atlantic Circle voyage. He chose to go north for the eastbound leg, stopping off in St. John’s, Newfoundland, before issue 62 2020
jumping across through ice-strewn waters and making landfall in France. He had to rely on celestial navigation, and the sun never shone. It was wet, cold, and rather miserable, but as Arthur had assembled a young, energetic, and joyful crew, they had a surprising amount of fun! Compared to the challenge of the eastbound passage, the trip home the following year via the Canary Islands and Bermuda was rather uneventful, but delightful. Arthur and Martha embarked on numerous trips to Nova Scotia, including the Bras d’Or Lakes, a trip up the Hudson and through the Erie Canal, a season of cruising in the Great Lakes, and ultimately a passage out the St. Lawrence. They also took the schooner down the Intracoastal Waterway and spent a winter in the Bahamas. Arthur later downsized to a Cape Dory 36, Vides Poches III, which was easier to handle. Health issues led to the purchase of a Willard trawler, Vides Poches IV, which allowed him to continue cruising and to appreciate modern marine systems. Gracious, courteous, and kind, Arthur was truly a man of character. Well-educated, well-read, and welltraveled, he had a diverse world of friends of all ages and backgrounds who cared deeply for him. After raising a happy and healthy family, he enjoyed his life afloat, cruising to new territories and old favorites. He loved remote coastlines and offshore sailing. While he was largely self-taught and independent, he has shared his passion with many other sailors, forming strong and lasting bonds along the way. Dorsey Milot Beard
Walter Paine 1923–2018
alter Paine was proud to be a member of the Cruising Club of America. He purchased the Valley News of Lebanon, New Hampshire in 214
1956 with partner James D. Ewing, and served as editor and publisher of the paper for 24 years. In 1957, in his role as Valley News editor, he mounted an investigation into the transparency and practices of the managers of the town of Lebanon that led to a shift to a town council form of government. Paine became a stockholder of Ascutney Mountain Resort of Brownsville, Vermont, in 1957, and majority owner in 1961. He owned the resort for more than ten years, selling it in 1972. He was a founder of the Montshire Museum of Science of Norwich, Vermont, and led the funding of the Kilton Public Library. Into his early 90s, he stalked, captured, and classified lots of insects, which were mounted and donated to the Montshire Museum. He was born in Boston, and learned to sail from his father at their summer home on Mount Desert Island. He was a graduate of Harvard University, and served as a U.S. Navy gunner in the Pacific during World War II. While working at the Baltimore Sun in the 1950s, he owned a Sparkman & Stephens sloop, which he sailed on the Chesapeake. He later owned Piera, a 45-foot Rhodes sloop built by Abeking & Rasmussen, which he loved to sail on the coast of Maine. His next boat, Saphaedra, was a 51-foot ketch, designed by Aage Nielsen and built in the Paul Luke Yard in Maine. He later purchased a motor yacht named Mitra and continued to cruise in Maine. His daughter, Alita Paine Wilson, recalled, “He liked to mesmerize lobsters by stroking their shells before boiling. He never panicked or yelled in anger at his crew (that I know). He was a patient teacher of the sport.” Son Ben Paine wrote: “He participated in most of the classic East Coast events annually, including the Bermuda Race, Monhegan Island Race, and many local regattas including one of his favorites, the Jeffreys Ledge. He sailed the 1979 Transatlantic Race in Alita, a highly customized Alden 44. Dad loved high-performance cruising
yachts, and the Alden was certainly at the top of that group in the late seventies. He had many boats, but the one he commissioned and campaigned the longest was the Aage Nielsen 51foot ketch Saphedra. Now spelled Saphaedra, she was thoughtfully restored by Queene Hooper Foster yard and is traveling the world sailing in the classic regattas.” Walter also had a research vessel custom built in Maine. It had professional-grade dredges and the latest electronics. He took it to the Caribbean with young researchers to dredge for mollusks. In the course of his research, he accumulated thousands of seashells that were eventually donated to the Conchologists of America. Michael Paine
John Parsons 1929–2019
ohn Parsons of Sarasota, Florida, and Jamestown, Rhode Island, died peacefully on January 29, 2019. He grew up in Providence and Warwick Neck, Rhode Island, and attended the Moses Brown School. He was graduated from the Kent School and Trinity College, both in Connecticut. He worked for many years at Aetna Life and Casualty in Hartford, and was co-founder of RIMCO in Avon, Connecticut. He was a trustee of Miss Porter’s School and director of the Farmington Savings Bank. John had a passion for boats and was an avid sailor and competitor. From an early age, he raced in small boats near Warwick Neck in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island. He won a first-place trophy at age nine in a boat that his father built for him. Most of his sailing was in Narragansett Bay in Blue Jays, Shields, Solings, and a J-24, and as a teenager he sailed frequently with his siblings, Ted and Ginny. Between 1970 and 1995, he raced in 11 Bermuda races, most of them on Jesse Bontecou’s
Matthias Plum 1933–2019
(NYS) Concordia, Harrier. Dick Hutchinson, John Quinn, and George Bauer were usually the rest of the crew. For one Marion to Bermuda Race in 1981 or 1982, he sailed his own Concordia, Chivaree, with two of his sons, Bob and Peter. They got a second-in-class. He enjoyed sailing along the East Coast with family and friends in Chivaree for about 20 years, when he sold the Concordia and bought a Tartan 37. With that boat, also called Chivaree, they cruised the East Coast and sailed south on the Intracoastal Waterway. He sold the second Chivaree after his wife died in 2002. John joined the Cruising Club of America in 1982 and was a member of the Boston Station. When he moved to Florida in 2005, he joined the Florida Station. He was a member of the New York Yacht Club since 1986, and a lifelong member of the Conanicut Yacht Club in Jamestown, Rhode Island, where he served as vice commodore and was on the board for many years. John loved his family. He will be remembered for the example he set, his sense of duty, integrity, and his strength of character. He always had a warm and ready welcome for people. His can-do spirit proved that hard work and positive thinking can overcome obstacles in life’s path. His family is forever thankful for this legacy. Carlotta Parsons
atthias Plum, Jr. was born in New York City on August 29, 1933. He attended the Town School and Buckley School in New York and was a 1952 graduate of the St. Paul’s School, where he received the Delphian medal for varsity hockey. He was a Distinguished Military Graduate of Princeton University in 1956. After two years’ service with the Ordnance Corps in Braconne, France, he was honorably discharged as a first lieutenant, U.S. Army Reserve. He pursued a career in commercial banking at the Boston Safe Deposit & Trust Company, Bankers Trust Co. (New York), and the First National Bank of Boston. In 1962, he left to attend the Harvard Business School, and graduated with an MBA with distinction. The balance of his career was focused on investment management, specifically the creation and financing of technology-based growth companies. He joined Massachusetts Investors Trust (now MFS) in 1964, where he became an industry specialist, portfolio manager, director of research, and partner. When MFS was sold to Sun Life Assurance (Canada) in 1982, he left to pursue a career in venture capital, first with Investor Associates, and then as president of Global Investments. In 1986, he was a co-founder and general partner of Copley Venture Partners, a venture capital firm specializing in early-stage investments in life science and consumer and business service companies. He was chairman of the Boston Ballet, the advisory board for the economics department at Boston University, the Office for the Arts at Harvard, the Boston Society of Electronics Analysts, and the Financial Analysts Federation. He was a member of the corporation of Massachusetts General Hospital and the Museum of Science (Boston), and served on the executive committee of the Board of
Associates of the Whitehead Institute. He was a trustee of the Garrison Forest School (Maryland) and the Chatham Beach & Tennis Club, of which he was also president. He was a Junior Achievement advisor and a coach in the Cape Cod Little League Hockey program.
With a lifelong interest in sailing, he completed a transatlantic crossing in 1974 on his brother-in-law’s boat, Karin. When the radio navigational equipment failed, Matthias used celestial navigation and arrived within 30 miles of their destination. He co-owned a Block Island 40, Astral, in which he completed several Bermuda races and the Marblehead to Halifax Ocean Race. He cruised along the Eastern Seaboard in a Freedom 32 and eventually a Nonsuch 30, First Light. Matthias had several boats built and liked working with the yard while the hull was formed. He designed the interiors to his own specifications and ensured that the systems were exactly as he wanted. After a few trips to Nantucket, he would put the boat up for sale and begin designing a new one. He was elected to the Cruising Club of America in 1980, and was also a member of the New York Yacht Club. He founded the Better Boating Association, a producer of chart kits. He was a kind and thoughtful man. issue 62 2020
He loved helping younger people with his guidance and time as they found their way in their careers, but one of his truest loves was being on the water: the salt air, the colors of sky and sea, the stars offshore, and the sounds of rigging on the mast and water against the hull while at anchor. Matthias Plum (son)
Richard St. Clair Salsman 1950–2019
ichard (Rick) St. Clair Salsman was born, lived, and died in Halifax, Nova Scotia, but his passion for travel and sailing took him to many corners of the world. During his youth, Rick learned to sail at Halifax’s Waegwoltic Club, but set sailing aside for a time while he attended Acadia University, traveled through Europe, and launched The Jeanery Limited, a retail clothing business. He eventually became sole owner of the company, which thrived until the sale of the business in 2011. Rick’s interests were many and varied. He was a licensed pilot with an Instrument Flight Rules rating, a skilled and graceful skier, an enthusiastic runner, an avid reader, an excellent cook, a talented photographer, and a lover of music. But all other hobbies paled in comparison to Rick’s passion for the sea. Summers were spent sailing, while winters were spent working on his boat, researching equipment, and dreaming of the next cruise. Rick and his wife, Bonnie, sailed their first boat, Unruly, in many local regattas; Rick’s excellent helmsmanship brought him to the podium on several occasions. However, Rick soon realized that racing was taking too much time away from his children, and decided to change his focus to cruising. Rick’s second boat, Hocus Pocus, carried his young family on many magical vacations along Nova Scotia’s south shore and in the Bras d’Or lakes. A born sailor, Rick was blessed with
Richard St. Clair Salsman
an ability to sail through the roughest of seas without a hint of seasickness. This was especially helpful on the rough and rocky coast of Nova Scotia. A family joke was that when others were incapacitated by heavy seas, Rick could be below decks studying a chart and eating barbecued peanuts with no ill effects. To this, Rick would reply, “Not true. I got seasick once.” Long before GPS was available, Rick’s expertise in navigation allowed him to sail through thick fog to arrive at his planned destination. He shared his knowledge and seamanship as a Sea Scout leader, and in 1989, he led his troop on a sailing expedition to the Boy Scout Jamboree in Prince Edward Island. Rick’s last and favorite boat, Aisling I, a cutter-rigged Slocum 43, took him on the adventure of his life. In 2002, Rick sailed Aisling I on her shakedown cruise from Nova Scotia to Bermuda. Trips to Maine, St. Pierre, and Newfoundland followed. In June 2007, with the help of two friends, he and Bonnie sailed Aisling across the Atlantic Ocean to the Azores. From there, they continued to northern Spain, down the coast of Portugal and into the Mediterranean Sea. The cruising lifestyle suited them both, and what was intended to be a two-year cruise evolved into a nine-year odyssey. Their blog, describing the adventures of Aisling,
was a reflection of Rick’s creativity and exuberance for life. In 2012, he received the Vilas Award from the Cruising Club of America for his writing. He was awarded the Parkinson Trophy in 2008 for his Atlantic crossing, and the Royal Cruising Club Trophy in 2006. By the time Aisling I was sold in 2016, Rick had sailed her in 15 countries. His plan was to find a boat that was suited to high-latitude sailing and to continue cruising, but this was not to be. He developed pancreatic cancer in 2017 and died on February 10, 2019. As much as Rick loved sailing, his greatest happiness came from spending time with his family and his many friends. In any port, Rick could be found walking the docks or visiting boats by dinghy, eager to meet other cruisers, learn from their experiences, and share his own knowledge. At home, his children, Christopher and Katherine; his son-in-law, Martin; and his new grandson, Théo, brought him much joy in the final months of his life. Rick was a member of the Cruising Club of America, the Ocean Cruising Club, and the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron. He was a past member of the Board of Governors of the Cruising Club of America. Rick is sadly missed by his family and his wide circle of friends, at home and around the world. Bernard Prevost
John Biddle Sinclair 1935–2019
ohn was born in Philadelphia and then moved to Riverside, Connecticut, where he grew up sailing on Long Island Sound in a community of close and lasting friendships. During the summers, he was in the Riverside Yacht Club Junior Sailing Program. He was educated at St. Luke’s and Tabor Academy, where he loved sailing on their school ship, the 92-foot topsail schooner, Tabor Boy. Then he
John Biddle Sinclair
was off to Colgate for college, and back to Connecticut to start his career as a banker. He and his brother, David M. Sinclair (NYS), crewed on his family’s 50-foot Lawley-designed yawl, Ingegerd, gaff-rigged with a raffee and no winches. They actively raced and cruised her. He then crewed in Maine on Perry Smith’s Cats Paw. His sailing education continued at a “graduate” level when he was invited to be a regular crew member on DeCoursey Fales’ (NYS) 59-foot schooner Nina, and was aboard when she was “dinghy-sailed” to win the 1962 Bermuda Race. He later became a regular crew member on Jim Robins’ (ESS) Lydian, which included his Marblehead–Halifax races, and cruising in Maine and Nova Scotia. I met John rock-hopping along Long Island’s north shore on the way to Block Island aboard Bill King’s (NYS) Phantom and Andale. He was a master. And he still took time to sail and race with friends on his own elegant Quincy Adams, Lady Luck, and later on Bacchante, a Pearson 30. John was active in the Riverside Yacht Club, becoming a board member, then commodore in 1980 and 1981. During his active years in the New York Yacht Club, he was a member of their Race Committee. He became a member of the Cruising Club of America in 1991. As his career took him around the country, he was successively a member
of the New York, Boston, and Pacific Northwest stations. Always a strong supporter of community service, John made time to serve as treasurer on public library boards located in Greenwich, Connecticut, Duxbury, Massachusetts, and Bainbridge Island, Washington. John was my first choice when I put together a five-man crew to sail transatlantic in my own 44-foot Frers ketch, Athene. We left from Halifax to Crosshaven on Ireland’s south coast. That was in 1989, and in the following years John and his wife, Lynn, always a good shipmate, joined us for summer cruises in northern Europe, most notably along Ireland’s Atlantic coast and Norway’s spectacular Lofoten Islands. They liked cruising in the Pacific Northwest as well. Together with Bill and Barbara King, John and Lynn chartered a Grand Banks 36 to explore the San Juan Islands. With Riverside friends on a Grand Banks 42, they joined the Pacific Northwest Station’s 2000 cruise through British Columbia to Alaska and into Glacier Bay. John was a fine seaman, a fine shipmate, and a fine person; open, friendly, engaged, warm, and compassionate. He liked to laugh. When you met him, you knew you wanted to get to know him. He lived the ideals of the Cruising Club, and he’s left a large group of loyal, trusted friends in the club and across the country, with many of their most valued memories of days at sea. Though toward the end he suffered from illness, his was a life well-lived. John is survived by his brother, David; his wife, Lynn; three children, John, Jr., David, and Anne Sinclair Griesser; six grandchildren; and one great-grandchild. Bob Hart
W. Wallace Stone 1928–2019
n July 12, 2019, William Wallace Stone, Wally to most of us,
crossed the bar. Friends recall his engaging demeanor and optimistic wit. As a lifelong sailor and powerboater, he cruised the Caribbean before it became a featured destination, but always favored sailing home to the quiet coves and special anchorages surrounding the Chesapeake Bay. Wally loved this unique estuary, and shared his local knowledge with all who showed an interest.
W. Wallace Stone
He grew up in a multigenerational boating world. His grandfather, Herbert L. Stone, went to sea at 17, fought in WWI, and held a steady hand on the editorship of Yachting Magazine from 1908 to 1952. He was a founding member of the Cruising Club of America and staunch Bermuda Race advocate. Wally’s father, Bill Stone, was also a prolific writer, authoring both Chesapeake Bay and Caribbean cruising guides. His most essential research tool was his seaworthy Nevins 40, Brer Fox. His son, Wally, was always at the ready to help with more research, whether it was close to home or far afield. Brer Fox and crew cruised the Western Caribbean, exploring Honduras, Guatemala, and Belize when cruising sailors in those parts were a true anomaly. Immediately after graduating from Goddard College in 1951, Wally was drafted and served in the Korean War. When his tour of duty was over, issue 62 2020
he went to work for Eastern Airlines in Washington, D.C. But once he and his wife, Molly, moved to Annapolis, Maryland, the lure of blending a vocation and an avocation became too hard to resist. Wally was offered the opportunity to join the crew of the then-fledgling Mears Marina, and his answer was yes. Over the next 30 years, he helped turn the operation into one of the busiest boating centers on the upper bay. He managed day-to-day operations and still had time to be a cruising mentor to new sailors and old salts alike. Wally loved all types of boats. From skiffs to schooners, he saw potential in each and every design. Among those he personally owned was an epic 30-foot Tumlare sloop, which had lots of grace and very little freeboard. One of his favorite tales was how taller crew used the marine toilet with the forehatch open, so their head and a bit of torso extended out the hatch. Another favored yarn was about a sweet-sailing little S&S 30 that sported a “sleeps seven” layout, leading to some memorable close quarters cruising. He cruised the Chesapeake Bay, the Bahamas, and the Western Caribbean. He was a longtime member of the Cruising Club of America, Severn River Yacht Club, and a founding member of Back Creek Yacht Club, and a member of the Maryland Tokens and Medals Society. In later years, Wally and his favorite shipmate, Molly, switched from sail to power. Their Sabreline 34, Mary Jane, was just the right vessel to extend their years on the water. On September 7, 2019, a memorial service was held at the Stones’ residence in Annapolis, Maryland, overlooking Crab Creek. The gathering was brimming with Back Creek Yacht Club members. John Melchner, past rear commodore of the Chesapeake Station, shared special cruising memories and emphasized how valuable time on the water can be. Wally encouraged others to engage in seafaring, and John extolled the importance of following in Wally’s wake. Ralph Naranjo 218
Daniel Walker 1927–2017
aniel Woodruff Walker was born in 1927. A member of the Exeter Class of 1945, he captained the undefeated wrestling team his last two years. With WWII still on, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps, serving in China. In 1950, he graduated from Yale with a B.Sc. in engineering. As a lieutenant in the Korean War, he was an outstanding rifle platoon leader, decorated with the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. He worked for International Underwater Contractors from 1965 to 1987 as international operations manager, which included being master of cable-laying vessels in New York and tugboats in New York Harbor and Long Island, and, under contract with the U.S. Air Force, master of a diesel workboat in Vietnam and Thailand. He was a chief diver in the South China Sea, the Persian Gulf, and the Gulf of Oman. From 1957 to 1985, he was on the board of directors of Parachutes Incorporated. He enjoyed testing himself by acquiring a variety of licenses, including private aircraft pilot, large crane operator, the difficult U.S. Merchant Marine Officer (USCG) with 100-ton Master endorsement, and, at age 86, an 18-wheeler truck license. He was crew on the Spookie in the 1950 Bermuda Race, and on Mokoia on the first Transatlantic Race in 1950. On Circe, he raced with John Coote in the 1953 Fastnet Race, and with Carl Hovgard on the 1955 Newport to Sweden voyage and the 1962 Newport to Copenhagen voyage. He also raced on Anitra in the Fastnet. Ross Sherbrooke (BOS) remembered: “We first met in 1955 after the second Transatlantic Race following WWII at Cowes Week and after the Fastnet in Plymouth, where he proposed to his Swedish wife on the lawn overlooking the harbor.” In 1956 and 1958, he was crew or navigator on the schooner Nina in the Bermuda races, and in 1959 sailed Anitra
in the Fastnet to win first place. Robert Erskine Jr. sailed with him on Anitra and said, “He excels in every aspect of seamanship, whether it be navigation, helmsmanship, emergency vessel repairs, or just plain seagoing common sense.” In 1964, he sailed with Gifford Pinchot on the yawl Loon from Connecticut to Bermuda, and from the Panama Canal to Balboa, Moorea, and Tahiti. Stephen Van Dyck (FLA) remembered, “I raced in the 1962 Bermuda Race on Mustang with Rod Stephens. Dan was part of our crew, along with a boatload of other CCA notables. Bob Erskine, Arthur Knapp Jr., Ben Mitchell, Halsey Herreshoff (BOS/BUZ), Rod Stephens, Stu Hotchkiss, and myself. Dan was a great shipmate among a crew of sailing greats and wonderful people. One only had to watch Danny on deck for a few minutes before they knew he really knew boats and the sea. Short on words, long on skills and wisdom, and never, ever ruffled. In all my time at sea, I can say he is the only shipmate I ever had who stood shoulder to shoulder with Rod Stephens. I can offer no greater tribute to a man.” Late in life Dan bought Samuel Baxter, a salvage ship resembling a cargo ship, and sailed her from England to the United States. Moored for years in front of his home, it was an anomaly among neighboring yachts until he
donated it to a charity. He never retired, starting well past age 60 as a volunteer ambulance driver, later obtaining an age waiver to pass the EMT and paramedic tests to volunteer, until his death, with the Indian River County Emergency Medical Services. Through his late 80s, he made over 30 trips to Honduras, aiding doctors who provided emergency medical care in a remote area. A distinguished yachtsman and member of the Royal Ocean Racing Club and New York Yacht Club, he became a member of the Cruising Club of America in 1964. He was a conservative to the bone, yet he made a large donation to Exeter for scholarships for girls of color from poor families. A lifelong donor of his blood and occasionally his bone marrow, he took his responsibilities as a human being seriously indeed. One misses him whenever a thought or occasion occurs that he might enjoy or criticize in our no-holds-barred friendship. Jacques-Andre Istel
Eric P. Williams 1937–2019
ick Williams crossed the bar on March 10 at age 82, following a short illness due to a stroke. Rick was known for his camaraderie and generosity throughout the Southern California Station and yachting community. A second generation CCA member, Rick was born into a boating family. One of Rick’s earliest memories afloat was waiting for the log boom that closed Newport Harbor during World War II to be opened for the first time since the end of the war, so he could make his first Catalina trip on the family Rhodes cruiser, Whim. From his waterfront home on Balboa Island, Rick gained valuable early experience sailing Penguins, Gulls, Snowbirds, PCs, and later, Cal 36s and Endeavors. His next-door neighbor, soon to be lifelong cruising partner and wife, Elaine, also
Eric P. Williams
grew up sailing. The first boat they owned together was a Lido 14. In 1947, the Williams family purchased Prowler, a 63-foot aviation rescue craft, as surplus from the Navy. This vessel formed the foundation of Rick’s long-range cruising experiences. His first foreign voyage on Prowler was in 1951, from Newport Beach to Mazatlan, Mexico. In these pristine and largely untraveled waters of the west coast of Mexico and Gulf of California in the early 50s, Rick learned navigation of the old school: bow and beam bearings, leadline, sharp lookout, and dead reckoning. Aids to navigation were few and far between, and fuel was pumped out of 55-gallon drums. Rick made three trips along the rugged Mexican coast between 1951 and 1964, and joined the boat when school would allow. Between cruises, Rick earned a business degree from USC. In 1972, Rick and Elaine bought a 34-foot Huckins, which the young family cruised to Catalina, San Clemente, and San Diego for 10 years. They then purchased a 43-foot Santa Barbara, Willpower, with Rick’s parents, and made several CCA cruises. In 1986, Windfall, an Offshore 48, was purchased. The family cruised from the Channel Islands to San Diego. In 1993, Rick and Elaine took the boat north to San Francisco for an extensive cruise of the Sacramento River Delta.
After owning several power boats, they moved up to a Fleming 55 in 1995. Festival soon departed for an extended shakedown Mexico cruise, as far south as the state of Oaxaca and up into the Gulf of California. After several thousand miles, Rick and Elaine knew they had found the perfect boat for them. When Rick wasn’t cruising, he was an active stockbroker with Dean Witter, Morgan Stanley, and UBS. He was a member of Newport Harbor and Balboa Yacht clubs, and president of the Rotary Club of Newport Beach. In addition to giving speaking and financial presentations aboard cruise ships, the Williamses were world travelers on vessels of many nationalities. Rick always made a point of befriending the ship’s master, and familiarizing himself with the latest shipboard navigation and communication technology. He seemed to always be welcome wherever he went. The couple loved jazz music, and took part in annual Dixieland-themed cruises. By May 1997, it was time to cruise to the Pacific Northwest. The destination was Vancouver, British Columbia, then up the Inland Passage to Prince Rupert, Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway. Before heading back down the coast in September, they passed through Glacier Bay. In 1999, Festival again headed south for an extensive Mexico cruise with CCA member and good friend Burt Zillgitt. Rick became a CCA member in 2001 and was active until his passing in cruises, meetings, and social events. He was cruise director in 2009 and 2010, and organized memorable and interesting coastal events. Festival could usually be found lying at anchor during summer months near Hen Rock at White’s Landing on Catalina. This was his dad’s favorite spot back when lobster and abalone were plentiful, and remained Rick’s place to relax and enjoy the yachting brotherhood. Rick lost his beloved Elaine in 2010 to cancer, a shipmate and friend missed greatly by the community. He is survived by his issue 62 2020
son, daughter, and four grandchildren. Robert Payne
Preston B. Zillgitt 1930–2019
reston Burt Zillgitt, of Corona Del Mar, California, passed on Tuesday, August 13, 2019, at the age of 88, following a long struggle with pulmonary fibrosis. Preston was born August 14, 1930, in Inglewood, California. He became fascinated with boats around age 10 and convinced his father to build him a 12foot sailboat so he could learn to sail. He built a Sabot, then got two friends to go in on a Mercury class boat with him. He joined Balboa Yacht Club while still a student at Occidental College in Los Angeles, where he was on the racing team. Following service in the U.S. Navy as an officer on a North Pacific destroyer in the Korean War and graduation from Occidental College, Preston married Bonnie Rose in 1954 and was happily married until Bonnie’s passing in 2014. He worked in the insurance industry, first at an agency in Inglewood. In 1969, he moved to a firm in Corona Del Mar. In the 1970s, he started his own insurance agency and the brokerage of Zillgitt and Wright. He retired in 1992. Burt raced the Little Dipper, a 27-
Preston B. Zillgitt
foot cutter, then bought Marjeca, a oneof-a-kind 30-foot cruising sailboat. He campaigned a Lido 14 and took fourth place in the 1964 Nationals. In a Cal 25, he won the Newport Harbor Fleet Championship in 1968. That same year, he crewed on a boat to the South Pacific. He loved cruising in his Grand Banks, Carina, maintaining her in firstrate condition. The trips he and Bonnie took in Carina ranged from Cabos San Lucas in Mexico to British Columbia. Their hospitality and friendship were legendary. With friends and family, they logged enough hours to more than circumnavigate the world. One of their longest ventures was to ship the Grand Banks 36 from California to Texas, and then, over multiple years, travel east
to Florida, up the East Coast as far as Maine, and through the Great Lakes. The boat was then shipped to the Pacific Northwest for a couple of seasons, before cruising the length of the West Coast back to Newport Beach. After a few years there, they went back up to the Pacific Northwest for a few more seasons before bringing the boat south a year or two before Bonnie passed away. His last boat was a 12-foot Barnstable gaff-rigged catboat, Smidgen, which he said was “the neatest little day sailor I had ever been in.” Burt joined the Cruising Club of America in 1990, and became rear commodore of the Southern California Station. He joined the Balboa Yacht Club in 1949, and served as Race Committee chair in 1973 and commodore in 1976. In 1976, he was also president of the Newport Ocean Sailing Association. Across his fully lived years, Burt took pride in his family and in growing his insurance agency business. He enjoyed incredible lifelong friendships from college and in the Inglewood and Balboa Yacht clubs. He is survived by his children, Anne and Garick; his grandchildren, Dylan, Brendan, Lindy, Dana, and Russell; and his seven greatgrandchildren. May his memory be a permanent benefit to all that knew Preston. Alan Andrews and Anne Grandy
Guidelines for Final Voyages PROCEDURE • When a member dies, please notify your station historian or rear commodore, who will notify the club secretary, webmaster, and the editor of Final Voyages. • The station historian will ask a member to write an obituary and obtain a photo, and the historian will send the material to the editor of Final Voyages. LENGTH • Write-ups should be a minimum of 250 and a maximum of 700 words. ESSENTIALS • The obituary should primarily honor the member’s involvement in the CCA. It should describe the member’s life and achievements in sailing, and his or her contributions to the sport and to the CCA. • Please include the year of birth and date of death. • Include BRIEF professional, military, and educational credentials, if desired. Obituaries written for newspapers or general-interest media are usually not appropriate for Final Voyages, but may be posted on the CCA website in the interim. • Sailing-related anecdotes are most welcome. FORMAT • Type single-spaced text in a Word file and italicize yacht names and book titles. Use only one space between sentences, provide full names rather than abbreviations, and do not use prolonged capitalization. • All text should be in one font style and free of formatting (other than italics for boat names and book titles). • Photos should be sent separately from the text file. Please do not embed photos in the Word file. • Please email the Word file and photos as email attachments. Alternatively, send the Word file and photos via Dropbox or WeTransfer (see Guidelines for Photos - Photo Submission for further information). PHOTOS • High-resolution, uncropped, digital images are best, sent in JPEG, or TIFF, format. • We can fix photos that are under- or over-exposed and do some color-correcting. Out-of-focus shots are a problem, and rarely can we salvage low-resolution digital images. • For additional details about photos, see Guidelines for Photos. DEADLINE - November 1, 2020 • Obituaries received after that date will be held for the next annual issue of Voyages.
Send Final Voyages Material to: Maggie Salter, Editor email@example.com or: firstname.lastname@example.org
issue 62 2020
Guidelines for Photos OWNERSHIP • Photos submitted must be your own or you must obtain the photographer’s permission and provide appropriate author credit. We are happy to give credit for photos published. FORMAT • High-resolution digital images (ideally set at 300 DPI or PPI, dots or pixels per inch) are essential. • TIFF and JPEG are the best digital formats. Please do not send other types of files without asking us first. • We can fix photos that are a little under- or over-exposed; do some color-correcting; and, rarely, improve low-resolution digital photos, but we cannot salvage out-of-focus images. • If you have only prints, slides, or negatives (for historical articles or obituaries), please have good digital copies made locally, then send us copies of the digital files. IMAGE QUALITY and PHOTO SIZE • When shooting digital photos, set your camera’s “Image Quality” and “Picture Size” to “High” or “Best.” Anything less, and the photos will likely be too small to use in print. • Please DO NOT send laser, inkjet, or desktop photo-printing software printouts; photocopies; newspaper or magazine pages; or any low-resolution digital images. Photos become unusable when scanned or digitally resampled. • To be sure your photo will print clearly, check the pixels by running your mouse over the image file in your browser, or right-click on the file itself and select “Properties” to see pixel counts. The relationship between digital image pixels and maximum print size is as follows: 600 x 900 pixels = 2 x 3 inches; 1200 x 1800 pixels = 4 x 6 inches; 2400 x 3000 pixels = 8 x 10 inches. The more pixels a photo has, the better the clarity will be when printed. • Please note that some online photo storage services automatically compress photos to a smaller file size. Read the fine print before using these services. Ideally you should save your best photo files on a drive that keeps them at their full, original resolution. PHOTO EDITING • We prefer photos NOT to have been edited, cropped, or color-corrected beforehand. • If you have edited the image at all, you should save it at the highest quality. Better still, save it as a TIFF, a lossless file setting. • If you decide you must edit the shot, please go easy, particularly on saturation and contrast. What looks good on screen can often look terrible in print. PHOTO SUBMISSION • Please limit the number of photos submitted to your 10 or 12 best images per article—easy to say, hard to do. • Please include a separate CAPTION LIST as a Word file, with BRIEF information for each image (location, people’s names, and boat names). Label each caption and image with a number or title that we can tie back to your article. Captions can easily be edited and refined once the article layout and design have been prepared, and it is difficult to know which photos fit your story most effectively without having a caption list upfront. • Send photo files as email attachments, or use a reputable web-based service such as Dropbox (dropbox.com) or WeTransfer (wetransfer.com). These are currently among the best electronic methods for sending many digital photos and other files at once. • If you submit photos by email, send a message describing how many emails with attachments will follow, then forward the image files in small batches. We will confirm all images received. • If an Apple user, please be certain files are JPEGs or TIFFs that are Windows- and PC-compatible.
Guidelines for Articles LENGTH • From 1,000 to 3,500 words. Any article in excess of 3,500 words will be returned to the author to be edited. FORMAT • Word document with no embedded formatting or photos. Please send photos separately. • Type single-spaced text, italicize yacht names and book titles, and use only one space between sentences. • If you use word-processing software other than Word, please “Save As” or “Export” to convert your file into Word. • Include dates and miles covered on your trip. • Send files as email attachments, or upload via Dropbox or WeTransfer along with your photos (see Guidelines for Photos - Photo Submission for further information). STYLE GUIDE • For authors new to Voyages, we can supply a comprehensive Voyages Style Guide. It will help us immeasurably if you look at this prior to submitting your article. AUTHOR BIO and BOAT INFORMATION • Please include a short sailing-oriented biographical sketch and good digital photo of the author, the boat’s home port, and the author’s CCA station. • Please note the station for each CCA member named in your article in the following format: Name (BOS/GMP). • Include a brief description of your boat and, if possible, any other boat(s) mentioned in your article, including home port, designer, builder, model, and year launched. MAPS and CHARTS • Please include a digital image or photocopy of a map or nautical chart showing the places you visited, with your route clearly marked. DEADLINE FOR 2020 ISSUE - October 18, 2020 • Manuscripts submitted after the deadline will be held for the following year.
Send Articles & Photos to: Voyages Editors - Zdenka & Jack Griswold email@example.com or: firstname.lastname@example.org
issue 62 2020
Last Words from the Editors Zdenka and Jack Griswold
e have a humongous issue this year! Twenty-seven articles as compared to 19 last year, plus three book reviews. And what a great job they do in reflecting the breadth and diversity of the many sailing accomplishments of our membership. Whether your interest is in sailing to far-off places, ocean racing, cruising as a family, or curiosity about the lifestyle, there is something for everyone in this issue. Donâ€™t miss reading Final Voyages. We continue to be amazed at the experiences and accomplishments of these recently departed members, shared with us by their families and friends. Last year, Peter Ward left nothing to chance and wrote his own obituary. This year, Bob Van Blaricom went a step further and, in addition to writing much of his obituary himself, also wrote a wonderful farewell letter to the membership. We must acknowledge our outstanding team of designers, whose creative talents do so much to make the magazine what it is. They are: Claire MacMaster of Barefoot Art Graphic Design; artist Tara Law âœ§; and Hillary Steinau 2 of Camden Design Group. Note their 224
unique graphic signatures, which appear at the end of each article. The indispensable Virginia Wright of Camden, Maine, assists us in proofreading and editing Voyages. We also want to express our gratitude to the many club members who have volunteered their help and assistance. Commodore Brad Willauer and the club officers have provided tremendous support and encouragement; Maggie Salter, the editor of Final Voyages, did a great job in tracking down over twenty obituaries; and our excellent crew of editorial advisors (see the masthead on page one for a complete listing) helped shape each article for publication. We are also very pleased that, thanks to Michael Moradzadeh and the web design team, Voyages is now viewable on the CCA website, both to the membership and to the public. We welcome any and all comments and suggestions for Voyages. Please note that the Voyages submission deadline in 2020 will again be October 18. And, most of all, keep those wonderful articles and photographs coming!
Second Shots Bonus images from the issue ...
You canâ€™t tell where the water meets the sky in the Bahamas.
112 28 Future Swedish champion.
Edgartown Harbor, Marthaâ€™s Vineyard, is busy day and night.
Crystal clear ice from the mouth of a retreating glacier.
Friendly locals, cousins, and best friends, Eddie and Terautahi, Kauehi, Tuamotus.
Sila and the king penguins of Salisbury Plain, South Georgia.
An ice-reinforced hull comes in handy in Greenland, where they love creative parking and do not use fenders.
The Places Places We We Sailed Sailed The