North Atlantic Plastic Patch

 

Those of you who sail and cruise in the Atlantic Ocean will probably not be pleased to learn that scientists have confirmed there is a vast patch of floating plastic debris in a band between 22 and 38 degrees north that rivals the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in size and density. Kara Lavender Law, a researcher with the Sea Education Association (SEA), shared this depressing revelation with scientists gathered at the Ocean Sciences Meeting in Portland, Oregon, earlier this week. According to Law, most of the debris picked up in surface trawl nets over the course of a 20-year SEA study consisted of fine bits of plastic up to one centimeter in size. The maximum density observed was 200,000 bits of plastic per one square kilometer.

Read more ...

Write comment (0 Comments)

Sailing the e33 with Dr. Destructo

 

One of the highlights of my recent trip to Miami was getting to meet Jeremy Wurmfeld, a young, personable designer who is co-founder (with Robbie Doyle of Doyle Sails) of e Sailing Yachts. I was hoping to sail with Jeremy aboard his e33, the sweet-looking daysailer he and Robbie introduced a few years back, but at first he demurred. He'd just returned from taking a group of five neophyte show-goers out for a hair-raising spin in quite blustery conditions and wasn't anxious to head out again.

Fortunately, I spied Steve Pettengill loitering about nearby. Just the man to have aboard when conditions are dicey! I at once press-ganged him into joining us and assured Jeremy all would be fine. But as we cast off lines and nosed out of the marina, Jeremy (seen on the right above) seemed puzzled and asked who Steve (on the left) was. I might have explained about the solo round-the-world racing career, or about the time he flipped a trimaran off Cape Horn, etc., etc., but instead I cited Steve's current job title. "He's Director of Destructive Testing for Hunter Marine," I answered enthusiastically. Jeremy, to his credit, did not look (too) alarmed.

Read more ...

Write comment (1 Comment)

School Ship Concordia Disaster

I'm sure a few Hollywood agents are already wrangling over the rights to this one. It's got everything needed for a blockbuster movie script: a crowd of innocent kids, some seriously mortal danger, plus a big fat happy ending. The scary part of the tale concerns the fate of the Canadian school ship Concordia, a 188-foot square-rigger with 48 high-school students aboard, that sank in a matter of minutes last Wednesday after being struck by a savage microburst 300 miles off the coast of Brazil. The miraculous part of the story is that everyone aboard--all the students, plus 16 other crew--escaped alive and was brought safely to shore.

Smack dab in the middle of this drama we find one huge unanswered question: why did it take Brazilian authorities over 24 hours to respond to Concordia's distress signal???

Read more ...

Write comment (0 Comments)

Presto 30 Sharpie

 

One big bummer for sailing show-goers at Miami this year was that the sail side of the show was split between two venues. Most boats were at Sea Isle Marina next to the Venetian Causeway, but a handful of larger ones were at the old Miamarina Bayside location. To see all the sailboats you therefore had to spend a lot of time waiting in line for shuttle buses. One big bonus, however, was that there were at least four different boats at Sea Isle that were continually taking folks out sailing on Biscayne Bay. One of these was the new Presto 30 from Ryder Boats in Maine. I'd seen drawings of this modern reinterpretation of the classic shoal-draft sharpie in a number of magazines and was anxious to go for a ride.

Read more ...

Write comment (0 Comments)

Slow-Motion Fuel Polishing

 

Having recently been involved in some annoying funky fuel adventures on my boat Lunacy, I was very interested in this new Parker Racor FPM-050 fuel-polishing "module" I found at the Miami show. The b lack box you see here is basically a pump that can continually pull a low volume of fuel through a Racor fuel filter when your boat is idle. Though you can also purchase a timer/controller unit that automatically turns the pump on and off at set intervals, its power draw is so low you can in fact leave it running unattended for indefinite periods of time. It seems an ideal way to keep fuel from getting wet and funky during an extended winter lay-up or when you are otherwise away from your boat for longer than you'd like to be.

Read more ...

Write comment (0 Comments)

America's Cup: Valentine's Day Massacre

 

I am back from Miami and have lots to share with you, but first we should wrap up the AC coverage. As predicted here on WaveTrain, Larry "the Oracle" Ellison has crushed Ernie "the Alinghi" Bertarelli 2-zip in the best-of-three series. The first race didn't get sailed until Friday morning ET (our hero intended to file a gear post at that time, but instead watched the race on his laptop in the boat show press room), and the second race only got off yesterday after the Principal Race Officer Harold Bennett reportedly quelled a mutiny aboard the committee boat (big kudos to Scuttlebutt's Cory Friedman on that mega-scoop). But the outcome was never in doubt. Ernie and his cat were little more than bullet-riddled corpses by the time it was all over.

Read more ...

Write comment (0 Comments)

Heat of the Night: Am I in Miami???

Yes, children... THAT is a rhetorical question. I got out of Boston on what might have been the last flight to leave Logan before the predicted snow-bomb hit and made it here in plenty of time to enjoy FLIR's Annual Thermal Imaging Tour of the Miami waterfront. Tis a brilliant bit of marketing. Movers and shakers and evenly lowly journalists get to eat and drink at FLIR's expense on a posh dinner boat while viewing their nocturnal surroundings through a thermal lens.

The gear truly is amazing. Unlike more pedestrian "night-vision" technology that simply amplifies what light is available, FLIR's "cameras" ignore light and just read heat instead. Which means they not only work in low-light situations, but literally in no-light situations. One thing they are very good at is spotting life forms in the water. In the photo here, for example, revelers have just identified a dolphin that was trying to sneak up on us.

Read more ...

Write comment (0 Comments)

Driving Miss Gipsy (Moth IV)

 

My recent foray into Chris Eakin's A Race Too Far inspired me to re-read Gipsy Moth Circles the World, Sir Francis Chichester's account of the one-stop solo circumnavigation he undertook in 1966-67. As Eakins relates in his book, there was a great media frenzy in the U.K. on Chichester's return, and this led immediately to the launching of the Golden Globe Race of 1968-69 by the Sunday Times newspaper. Over here in the U.S., some may recall, the echo of that frenzy landed Chichester on the cover of Life magazine. I am just old enough to remember that little publicity bomb well, and Chichester's book was the first I ever read about a voyage of this type.

I always remembered it as being a bit dry and boring. I have not read it since and am pleased to report I liked it much better the second time. Chichester's prose is indeed dry, but is also precise and very intelligent. With it he carefully documented, and modestly understated, what was truly a remarkable voyage.

Read more ...

Write comment (2 Comments)

Subcategories

  • Boats & Gear

    Evaluations of both new and older sailboats (primarily cruising sailboats) and of boat gear.

  • The Lunacy Report

    Updates on what’s going on aboard my own sailboat Lunacy: breakdowns, maintenance jobs, upgrades, cruises and passages undertaken, etc.

  • News & Views

    Updates on what’s going on in the sport of sailing generally (most usually, but not always, relating to cruising under sail) and in the sailing industry, plus news nuggets and personal views on all manner of nautical subjects.

  • Lit Bits

    Longer articles by me that treat sailing and the sea in a more literary manner, short reviews of nautical books I think readers might enjoy reading, plus occasional excerpts from nautical books that I’d like to share with readers.

  • Techniques & Tactics

    Tips and diatribes regarding boathandling, sailhandling, seamanship, navigation, and other realms of nautical expertise.

Search

Subscribe

Total Cruise Control

Buy Total Cruise Control On Amazon Click Here

Buy Total Cruise Control On Amazon Click Here