2016 VENDEE GLOBE: Southern Ocean Match Race

3 Dec

What a nail-biter! Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss and Armel Le Cleac’h on Banque Populaire have been swapping places at the front of the Vendée Globe fleet for some time now and are deep in the Southern Ocean, not too far west of the longitude of Cape Leeuwin at the southwestern tip of Australia. Le Cleac’h is the French heir apparent favored to win the race at the outset; Thomson is the Great Anglophone Hope, the only non-French competitor to have any chance of winning the race since Ellen MacArthur came a close second to Michel Desjoyeaux way back in ...

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2016 VENDEE GLOBE: Southern Ocean Match Race

3 Dec

What a nail-biter! Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss and Armel Le Cleac’h on Banque Populaire have been swapping places at the front of the Vendée Globe fleet for some time now and are deep in the Southern Ocean, not too far west of the longitude of Cape Leeuwin at the southwestern tip of Australia. Le Cleac’h is the French heir apparent favored to win the race at the outset; Thomson is the Great Anglophone Hope, the only non-French competitor to have any chance of winning the race since Ellen MacArthur came a close second to Michel Desjoyeaux way back in ...

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A Sea-Going Episode

3 Dec

It’s a big day to cross into a new hemisphere. Like crossing the Equator, yesterday we crossed the Prime Meridian, watching the West longitude change to East longitude on the GPS. Now we are out of both of our comfort zones, the Northern and Western Hemispheres!

Into the night, with another blow coming, we decided to head east for a bit to let the bulk of the storm pass to our south. We sailed with two reefs in the mainsail and the fractional gennaker. In the middle of the night, we got over 30 knots of wind, not forecast, and ...

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SOUTHBOUND LUNACY: Delivery to Annapolis Completed

3 Dec

Departing Manhattan

Not surprisingly, the very best weather window for getting Lunacy from Huntington to Annapolis came over the Wednesday and Thursday of the Thanksgiving holiday, when abandoning hearth and family for the vicissitudes of offshore sailing would have cost many spousal brownie points. It’s hard not to feel a little anxious about these things this time of year. Every day lost means the day of departure, when finally it comes, will likely be colder, with a smaller weather window and a greater chance of stepping in something.

Not to worry. After the trauma of grinding my fingers through the anchor windlass...

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SOUTHBOUND LUNACY: Delivery to Annapolis Completed

3 Dec

Departing Manhattan

Not surprisingly, the very best weather window for getting Lunacy from Huntington to Annapolis came over the Wednesday and Thursday of the Thanksgiving holiday, when abandoning hearth and family for the vicissitudes of offshore sailing would have cost many spousal brownie points. It’s hard not to feel a little anxious about these things this time of year. Every day lost means the day of departure, when finally it comes, will likely be colder, with a smaller weather window and a greater chance of stepping in something.

Not to worry. After the trauma of grinding my fingers through the anchor windlass...

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Dramatic Wind Shift

2 Dec

Another difficult night. The long forecast front came through on schedule, for us about midnight. The wind would shift dramatically from Northwest to Southwest (approximately) with the only unknown being how strong the wind would be, and how rapid the directional change would be.

When it happened, it happened fast. The Wind had been at about 25 knots, and it went up to 41 knots (highest that I saw), and shifted very deliberately, so that our course (which was connected to the wind direction by the autopilot function) changed from an easterly course to a northerly course.

 Front South Atlantic

Route

 Front passage

True Wind

...
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Testing the Garmin Fantom 24 in a new world of solid-state radar

1 Dec

Written by Ben Ellison on Dec 1, 2016 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Gizmo_testing_four_solid-state_radars_11-2016_cPanbo.jpgIt went unmentioned at our large family Thanksgiving feast last week, but I am thankful that solid-state radar became omnipresent in our marine electronics world this year. In fact Gizmo’s four test radomes now all share the solid-state virtues of near instant power up, low power draw, low emission levels, and long life (at least theoretical). They are all decent performing radars, too, and several offer very special features that only seem possible with solid-state technology. In this entry I’ll try to sort out the field, ...

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Cruising cold

1 Dec

0-totem-underway

I dreamed of high latitude cruising, inspired by stories like Dave & Jaja Martin’s book about wintering over with their family in Iceland and Norway, and tales of Cape Horn by classic and modern cruisers. In soft focus imaginings of our future afloat, Jamie saw palm trees… I saw glaciers. Tropical latitudes are a fine place to start.

This past month, my romantic ideal of cold-weather cruising had a rude awakening. We anticipated the chilly weather as much as we could, choosing to pay the big bucks at Capital Yacht Club so we could plug into shore power and run ...

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Amazing sailing footage

1 Dec


Some of the most amazing sailing footage has just been posted on the web. If you have ever wondered what it looks like out there is the middle of the open ocean thousands of miles from land sailing an IMOCA 60 at full speed, wonder no more.  The french navy stationed at Kerguelen Island intercepted the two leading boats in the Vendée Globe and captured some incredible footage. They first zoomed in on Armel Le Cléac’h aboard Banque Populaire who was leading at the time, and shot some excellent footage from a chopper. They then surprised Alex Thomson on ...
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Nerve-Wracking Speeds

1 Dec

A difficult night. The wind picked up, and the speeds picked up, and it is nerve-wracking. I don’t like it. We switched from the fractional gennaker to the solent to the staysail, all with 2 reefs in the mainsail, and I would have put in a 3rd if I’d had confidence that in the dark we could have gotten the mainsail halyard locked. Yesterday, when putting in the second reef, it took over an hour to get the lock to lock.

We have regularly hit speeds in the 20s, with the high being 24.7 knots just a few minutes ...

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