The Weather Window

6 Nov

Here we are, anchored in Tonga. We are surrounded by coral reefs and tropical vegetation. Sharks and rays swim lazily by. We can snorkel into caves filled with fish below and bats above. And there are boats aplenty. And what are all of these people doing in this natural paradise? Let's listen in to the chatter around the harbor.

"Did you get a grib file today?"

"Hmm, what do you think about that low that's forming? Is it going to hit us squarely, or push off to the west?"

"I don't like the look of those isobars."

"Did you see ...

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Requiem For HMS Bounty

5 Nov

Lots of HMS Bounty tragedy follow-up for you.

Let's start with National Geographic, which has some spectacular (and now poignant) footage of the doomed HMS Bounty's first voyage, as she sailed off to star in the Hollywood version of "Mutiny On The Bounty."

Next, the Coast Guard blog has a detailed and gripping account of the rescue. Here's a taste, but you'll want to

read the whole thing:

It didn’t take long before they spotted a survivor in the water, adrift and alone. The survivor was wearing an insulated suit and co-pilot Lt. Jane Pena spotted the

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Shark And Man

5 Nov

Sometimes we need to rethink what we think we know. And great photography can help us do that.

A good example is the photopraphy of Daniel Botelho, who has been spending time diving with Great White sharks off Guadalupe island off the coast of Baja, Mexico. The results are pretty stunning.

And here's a little film clip of Botelho's work with Great Whites. Try to imagine the feeling of being in the water with such extraordinary animals. 


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Making Cockpit Coamings – Fun With Fire Edition

5 Nov

Here’s a fun project to add a little something extra to your woodwork. For months now, on and off, I’ve been plugging away on a new set of cockpit coamings. Coamings, being little more than a couple flat planes, seem easy enough to maintain so I decided to finish them bright (against my father’s typically utilitarian recommendations). For this we bought a couple very nice mahogany planks.

My coamings-to-be after shaping and sanding. The light in my shop is terrible so you’ll have to bear with the photos..

After a bit of shaping these planks sat for months while I ...

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Caribbean 1500: The Decision to Depart Early

5 Nov

I'm writing this from my hotel room in Hampton on Sunday night, the day after the Caribbean 1500 fleet went to sea (the day it was supposed to go to sea). I need to confirm this with Steve Black, but I think it's the first time in the event's history that it actually left the Chesapeake early. 

Fall on the US East Coast is always a difficult time for weather forecasting, and this year was perhaps the best (or worst, depending on your perspective) example of that. The challenge in planning an offshore voyage this time of year is the

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The Impossibilty of Weather Forecasting

5 Nov

Note: this is re-printed from the March/April 2012 issue of Yacht Essentials Magazine. Thanks to Chris Kennan and Brad Kovach for permission!

“This is complicated.” That is what scientists in the 1960s and 1970s decided a simple graph depicting a chaotic curve – the ‘Lorenz Attractor’ – was trying to say, without having to speak a word.

Fifty years ago, long-range weather forecasting was already a scientific impossibility, and Edward Lorenz proved it. In 1962, Lorenz published his definitive work on meteorology in Volume 20 of the Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, a paper made public to little fanfare

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HMS Bounty Captain Speaks

2 Nov

Until we hear more from survivors it is hard to know just what the HMS Bounty Captain, Robin Walbridge, was thinking when he sailed his vessel and crew into the teeth of Hurricane Sandy

And, of course, Walbridge is missing and presumed dead, so we'll never hear directly from him. But via Sailing Anarchy comes this extended, and perplexing, interview with Walbridge, conducted in August. The discussion of bad weather and storms starts at 10:30. And the casual and naive attitude regarding hurricanes Walbridge diplays is either a misguided attempt to sound cool and crusty for an interview. Or ...

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ETNZ Uber Alles?

2 Nov

Yes, it's almost a year before the actual America's Cup match. And, yes, there is a whole new generation of AC72 boats to come. But amidst all the glitches, setbacks, and catastrophes of Artemis and Oracle, and the late start of Luna Rossa, there is one team that just keeps sailing on, looking good, learning from its training, and getting better. And that team is Emirates Team New Zealand. 

It was always going to be hard to get the AC72 right, because it is an entirely new beast. But just look at the clips of ETNZ's AC72 in ...

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Hallowe’en Riddles

1 Nov

Q:  What do you use for a jack o lantern in the tropics, where pumpkins are not to be found?

What am I?

A:  A watermelon, of course!

Pah, pumpkins.  My seeds are way scarier.

Q:  What did the girls wear for Halloween, after all?
A:  Dads clothes?
No, not this time.
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PASSAGE EAST: Racing Transatlantic With Carleton Mitchell

31 Oct

1952 Transat Race

Big confession here: I have read little of Carleton Mitchell’s writing. I was always familiar, of course, with his enormous reputation–three consecutive Bermuda Race wins, etc.–but I never bothered to study any of his seven books until he died at the ripe old age of 96 in the summer of 2007. On learning of his demise, I ordered a copy of Islands to Windward, his first book, published in 1948, which documents an extended cruise of the Caribbean he made aboard Carib, a 46-foot Alden ketch, shortly after World War II. The photos were nice, but I wasn’t ...

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