Clark Beek

New Island Formation In Tonga

17 Mar

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The formation of this new island, Hunga Tonga, is getting worldwide publicity. In the diptych above you can see two unconnected islands in the image to the left, now nearly joined by the new eruption in the image on the right. If you haven’t seen the photos taken by GP Orbassano, an Italian expat who lives in Nuku’alofa, you can see them here.

All along I thought this eruption/new island must be the same as one that made the rounds years ago. In 2006 a cruiser, Fredrik Fransson of s/v Maiken, motored through a sea of floating pumice, then ...

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New Steering Wheel Adventure, Part 1

16 Mar

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Let’s cut to the chase here: If you’re going to buy a new steering wheel, make sure it fits your boat, cuz making your boat fit the steering wheel is a big deal.

The venerable steering wheel on my nearly 50-year-old boat is tired. It’s made of of aluminum and coated in Bakelite, or some such substance. The aluminum is bubbling and corroding through the coating in several places, and black electrical tape covers the horrors and protects my hands from injury.
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I’d had my eye out in second-hand chandleries, and online, because new steering wheels are expensive. The cheapest ...

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Colin Firth to Play Donald Crowhurst in Biopic

10 Feb

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Talk about a long wait. The book, The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst, by Nicholas Tomalin and Ron Hall, was completely out of print for some years, but a cult favorite and the subject of many late night cockpit ruminations.

It tells the tale of Donald Crowhurst who, along with the likes of Bernard Moitessier, Robin Knox-Johnson, and Chay Blyth, entered the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race in 1968, the first singlehanded, non-stop round-the-world race. Indebted and under intense pressure to succeed, yet woefully unprepared and inexperienced, Crowhurst never made it farther than the South Atlantic. He faked ...

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Wire Fraud Cruisers Nabbed in Bahamas

9 Feb

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The Winberg’s second attempt to flee justice aboard a cruising sailboat has been foiled. The couple faced trial for wire fraud, and decades in prison, if convicted.

The couple and their seven children tried to flee the country in early December, but ended up sinking in Galveston Bay, Texas. Their infant wasn’t breathing, but was revived with CPR. The locals knew something was up when they fled ASAP, and abandoned the boat. It turned out they’d given fake names.

Now, two months later they almost got away with it again…almost. A different boat, a different coast, and they were ...

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Flyin’ Hawaiian Sinks of Monterey

5 Feb

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This boat was one of the many eyesores dotting Richardson Bay, where about 200 liveaboards anchor with apparent impunity to local, state, and federal laws regarding registration and holding tanks. I always assumed it was built just as a floating home, and had no inkling of the owner’s dream of sailing her to Hawaii. I’d heard about her construction, all from materials purchased at Home Depot. I kayaked around her one day with a friend and deemed her unseaworthy beyond the confines of greater San Francisco Bay, and maybe a stretch within.

More here in the Marin Independent Journal. ...

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Vestas Volvo Ocean Race Wreck: Very Naughty Language!

16 Dec

It seems to have escaped the sailing world that Cargados Carajos, the site of the wreck, is not a term to be bandied about in front of children. Google translates it as “loaded f*ck.” Like much profanity in English, it doesn’t make much grammatical sense, but when we’re screaming profanity, are we really trying to make any sense?

I speak Spanish, but when it comes to the finer distinctions of obscene expletives I seek help. One native Spanish-speaker answered my request for clarification thusly: “‘Cargados carajos’ pretty much means loaded f*ck. Holy sh*t would be more like “santísima mierda” ...

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The Money Shot: Getting the Ultimate Cruising Boat Photo

20 Nov

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For a racing boat the ultimate photo captures plumes of whitewater sheering off your bow. In your wake, just out of focus, a famous rival shakes his fists.

For a cruiser the ultimate photo captures your boat in some spectacular anchorage, or at least the photo evokes a sense of place. We all know getting there is half the fun, but the shot of your boat in the perfect destination proves you actually got somewhere. In addition, this photo should accomplish two goals:

1. Elicit immediate recognition and respect from fellow cruisers.
2. Make landlubbers think you’re a freakin’ daredevil....

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