Adventures in Customer Service

8 Dec

One of the necessary first steps when visiting a new country is figuring out How Things Work Here.  You would think that would be obvious, but I assure you it isnt.  No matter where you go, things are at least a little different than back home.  Store hours.  Public transit.  Just buying a cold six-pack ...
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CATALINA 42: A Modern Classic

7 Dec

Catalina 42

The Catalina 42 was introduced in 1989 and was one of the first mass-produced American boats to feature both a sugar-scoop transom with a swim platform and a three-stateroom layout with two aft cabins under the cockpit. It was very much a response to similar boats that first appeared in Europe in the mid-1980s, but unlike its contemporaries it stayed in production for over 20 years. Over 1,000 were built, making it one of the most successful cruising sailboats of its size ever created.

Boats like this have long dominated the mass-production market, but what distinguishes the Catalina 42 from ...

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ETNZ Flaunts It

7 Dec

ETNZ is 28 sailing days into their program of demoralizing the other America's Cup teams with their impressive AC72 design, boathandling, and foiling. But that doesn't mean they are done.

Grant Dalton is a master of the head game. And as ETNZ closes in on its 30 sailing day limit, Dalton and his boys got a nasty forecast, and a message from the deisgn and engineering team: "Push it."

So they did. And the filmed it. And then they put it on YouTube so Larry, Tjorbjorn, Patricio and their teams could worry even more about how far behind ...

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ARC 2012 – 40 foot boat is first arrival after 12 day crossing

7 Dec

I just got news from the Rally Office in St. Lucia that Vaquita, a Class 40, skipper by my friend and former Volvo Ocean Race skipper Andreas Hanakamp, has just crossed the finishing line of this year's ARC, a full 20+ hours ahead of the next boat (a Swan 80 no less!). I'm thrilled by this news! Mia and I met Andreas last year at the ARC and became quick friends with he and his partner Nina over a couple of rum drinks at the marina in Rodney Bay. We head down there on Sunday to work for the ...

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Ranting about safety at sea

7 Dec

I feel like I'm decidedly in the minority when it comes to the modern ocean sailing game. My boat is from 1966, my GPS a handheld unit from 1993, we've got paper charts onboard and no electrics whatsoever besides the LED lighting. Hank-on headsails (we carry five of them), tiller steering and a 35-gallon water tank. The engine only works to charge the batteries and get us in and out of the dock.

But I feel safe aboard Arcturus. ...

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All About Bilge Pumps

5 Dec

Bilge pumps are the critical last line of defense against sinking, and boats sink all the time. Bilge pumps and attendant equipment are fairly cheap, and easy to install and wire, yet often neglected, inoperable, or undersized. Some people think just one is enough, when two is the bare minimum, better three or four.

Bilge pumps are neglected because they sit in the least desirable place on the boat, sometimes wedged under an engine, and are usually covered with crud. They lead hard lives down in the wet and darkness, yet are fairly reliable if installed correctly.

First, the Coast ...

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Vendee Chronicles: “It’s A Little Too Stressful, Really”

5 Dec

The Vendee Globe is putting out a ton of video. But I find it oddly incoherent, especially in contrast to the video output of the Volvo Ocean Race. I mean, you get a bunch of boats setting a new 24-hour record, and no video summary, with video and interviews, on that amazing sequence?

Anyhow, I finally watched a video that I feel really takes you inside the race in an easy to understand way. It's Alex Thomson, blasting across the Southern Ocean while trying to juggle speed, safety, eating, sleeping, and communicating.

No one can really know ...

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HMS BOUNTY: Many Unanswered Questions

4 Dec

Rescuing Bounty survivors

SAY WHAT??? Has my esteemed SAILfeed colleague, the mysterious Mariner, been spending too much time sniffing go-juice fumes? I eagerly dove into his post yesterday, in which he hailed and linked to “the first detailed journalistic account” of the loss of HMS Bounty, but was sorely disappointed by what I found. The account in question, currently bouncing around the Internet in various (often unattributed) iterations, was originally published by Spiegel Online and is barely coherent in places and doesn’t even pretend to address some of the biggest questions raised by the tragedy.

Right at the top ...

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WHALE SHARK RESCUE: Measure Twice, Cut Once

3 Dec

Here’s a cool viddy that popped up on YouTube a couple of weeks ago. This poor whale shark, found swimming off Baja California, somehow got a very heavy rope wrapped around itself, and this team of divers managed to approach it and cut it free. The rope evidently had been in place a long time, as it looks like it was studded with barnacles and other growth and had cut way into the shark.

How do YOU spell relief???

I bet that was one happy fish.

Biology lesson: whale sharks are huge filter-feeding fish that snack on tiny creatures ...

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