bluewater sailing

  • OUT OF AFRICA: Harmattan Days in the Cape Verde Islands

    Carie in cockpit

    [Editor’s Note: After spending most of the winter of 1997 in Senegal and Gambia onCrazy Horse--see earlier posts on this here--I sailed out to explore the Cape Verdes before sailing to the West Indies. An earlier version of this account was published inCruising World.]

    AS WE LEFT the city of Banjul behind us, we could see that the swollen mouth of the Gambia River, a vast grey fairway, was studded with fishing pirogues. Most of the fishermen were tending charcoal fires in their bilges and thus were easily distinguished from a distance, lurking under dark smudges in the sky. They waved their arms as we approached, shouting in Wolof, to warn us away from their unmarked nets.

    Either we’d strayed on to the flats, where one might reasonably expect to find men fishing in small canoes, or a buoy was missing. And yes, I remembered. The previous week while walking the beach at Fajara, Carie and I had found a huge red nun lying like a bloated whale upon the sand. And I thought then: pity the sailor who needs this buoy to find his way. And I was thinking now after studying the chart: it must have gone right there, off our port bow, and these men must be insane, fishing like this with their nets splayed out all across the shipping channel.

    Later that afternoon, after we finally we broke break free of the onshore sea breeze, free from the drift nets and from the continent of Africa, we found the tradewinds had far too much north in them--a discouraging development.

  • PROVINCETOWN MA TO PORTLAND ME: Doublehanded With Underpants

    Bear front

    Lunacy at last, as of early Tuesday morning, is all the way home. I brought along crew for this last mini-leg of the voyage not because it felt necessary, but rather because an old friend, a fellow sailor, Frank "Bear" Gibney, has suddenly reappeared in my life and it seemed the perfect way to reconnect. As you can see in that photo up there, Bear quickly got the hang of Lunacy's helm and became adroit at steering with his (well-underpanted) groin.

  • SEA GYPSY: Early Adventures of Peter Tangvald

    Sea Gypsy cover

    I continue to be fascinated by the Tangvald family: young Thomas, who sailed with his young son and pregnant wife from Puerto Rico to Brazil aboard an engineless 34-foot nativo racing sloop and was subsequently lost at sea off the South American coast sailing the same vessel singlehanded in 2014; and his father Peter, who lost two wives at sea and was himself killed along with a 7-year-old daughter after he piled up on a reef off Bonaire in 1991. So I have purchased and recently finished reading Peter Tangvald’s first book, Sea Gypsy, which was published in 1966 and has long been out of print. This does not document the infancy of Peter’s bluewater cruising career, aboard a 45-foot yawl Windflower that he sailed from England to California in 1957-58, but rather its adolescence, aboard a 32-foot cutter Dorothea on which he circumnavigated from 1959-64.

  • SEA NYMPH RESCUE: Two Crazy Ladies and Their Dogs Adrift for Five Months

    Sea Nymph

    This story has been getting a ton of play in the mainstream media, plus of course the usual sailing-forum trolls who pounce like hyenas on any abandoned-boat mishap have been happily feasting on it. It does involve an unusual set of facts. Starting with the crew: one woman with 10 years of coastal sailing experience, another with exactly zero sailing experience, and two dogs, rather large ones, presumably with limited experience. Then there’s the fairly mild nature of the equipment failures that led to their drifting across the Pacific aboard their boat Sea Nymph for five months: an engine that got wet and wouldn’t start and a bent mounting bolt that compromised one spreader in their rig. Finally there’s the latest development: they claim to have been making radio distress calls throughout their ordeal, but it turns out they also had an EPIRB they never activated.

  • SPOUSE OVERBOARD: Cruising Legend Pete Hill Loses Wife Carly Off Coast of South Africa

    Peter and Carly

    I think everybody who sails has vividly imagined some variation of this nightmare: you leave a crew member alone on deck for a while to catch some sleep below, and when you come back on deck you find your crew is missing. Disappeared, with no clue what happened to them. So it was in reality for poor Pete Hill, who departed Durban, South Africa, bound for Madagascar on Thursday with his wife Carly aboard their 33-foot junk-rigged wood-epoxy catamaran Oryx. Hill reportedly went below for a nap at some point on Friday afternoon, while the boat was still just 6 miles off the South African coast, and when he awoke Carly was gone. After a fruitless two-day search by South African authorities, Carly Hill, age 58, is now presumed to be dead.

  • ST. MARTIN TO BERMUDA: Solo Passage Without Underpants

    Underpants on line

    I think it was Fatty Goodlander who once wrote that he is always so nervous just before starting a passage that he constantly has to pee. I can certainly relate to that. No matter how many times you've done it, no matter how well prepared you are, at least if you're skipper of a vessel there's always a vague element of fear and uncertainty to wrestle with on setting out to sea. Most particularly when you're going alone. When sailing solo the potential consequences of stuff you forgot to attend to and of miscalculations you may have made always seem grossly magnified.

    You can imagine my dismay then when I realized the morning of my solo departure from Oyster Pond aboard Lunacy that I had forgotten to pack any underwear. Not that this in itself must be fatal to the voyage's success. I did have the one pair of underpants I'd worn on the plane down to St. Martin, which I could repeatedly wash by hand en route (see photo up top). I also had two pairs of swimming trunks I could wear. And of course, being alone, I could always just prance around the boat naked if necessary. (Don't worry, I have no photos of this.)

  • STANLEY PARIS: Record-Breaking Non-Stop Solo Circumnavigation, Take Two

    Kiwi Spirit

    Let the record reflect (no pun intended) that on November 9, just one day after I finally departed Bermuda aboard Lunacy, Dr. Stanley Paris left Fort Lauderdale on his second attempt to circle the globe non-stop aboard his fancy custom performance-cruising sled Kiwi Spirit. I'm not really sure how I feel about this. I mean, I think it's great he's trying again, but I'm not sure I'm interested in the voyage. What I am, frankly, is a little annoyed that Dr. Paris has never given us a coherent account of what went wrong on his last attempt. I don't see how he can expect us to follow his exploits when he doesn't bother to tell us what's really going on.

  • TANDA MALAIKA: Lost on an "Unmarked" Reef in French Polynesia

    Tanda wrecked from air

    I noticed this story a few days ago and finally found the time to study the available facts. This takes some concentration as the writing style of Belinda Govatos, the sailor/blogger who suffered through these events with her family and diligently recorded them on her website, Adventures of a Tribe, doesn’t seem to involve paragraphs. The story begins on the night of July 18, when according to Belinda’s account her husband Danny was keeping close watch on deck while she prepared dinner as their Leopard 46 catamaran Tanda Malaika, outbound from Mo’orea in French Polynesia, approached the atoll of Huahine.

    “We were moving at a speed of about 8-9 knots,” she wrote, “with the jib out and both engines running. Danny was watching the navigation instruments when he noticed the depth gauge suddenly drop from 180ft to 0, and he tried turning the helm hard to port realizing that an unmarked reef was ahead. It was at that point that we all felt Tanda Malaika violently hit reef.”

  • THE SEA IS NOT FULL: A Must Read For Bluewater Sailors

    SINF cover

    John Kretschmer, one of the most popular bluewater authors of our generation, has called it “ONE OF THE BEST SAILING BOOKS” he’s read in a long time. “More than that," he continued, "it’s one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. [Doane’s] revelations of being at sea recall the spirit of Moitessier.”

    A SPECIAL OFFER! Buy the book on Amazon and give it a read. Write a review (good or bad, it’s up to you), print out your review and send it to me (the author) along with your copy of the book (see mailing address below). I’ll sign it for you, with a personal inscription, and send it back at my expense. (Offer good only in the continental United States.)

  • THE SEA IS NOT FULL: Preorder Your Copy on Amazon Right Now!

    Ahoy all loyal WaveTrain riders and any other persons interested in ocean sailing and marine subjects generally. This is not a drill! You really do need to BUY THIS BOOK. By yours truly. Can now be preordered at Amazon at a price much lower than I personally would like to see it selling for. (But that’s Amazon for you.) One size fits all, and it is guaranteed to open your eyes to aspects of ocean sailing you never really considered before.

  • USED BOREAL 44 FOR SALE: RC Louise Is Up For Grabs!

    RC afloat

    The primary reason I ordered a new Boreal rather than just buying a used one is that used ones very rarely come on the market. In fact, I’ve never seen one listed, until now. I met Steve and Tracy, owners of RC Louise, a Boreal 44, through a series of coincidences last summer and managed to lure them to my home in Portsmouth by shooting them an e-mail as they were sailing down the coast from Maine. We had a fine visit and I learned many useful things from them. Later I coincidentally ran into them again after sailing old Lunacy down to Annapolis to be sold. They have recently announced they are reluctantly selling RC Louise, which is now available for viewing, also in Annapolis. If you are interested in these boats you should definitely check her out. You are very unlikely to see another available in the U.S., or anywhere, anytime soon.

  • VIKINGS ON THE LOOSE: Largest Longship Built in Modern Times Has Set Out Across the Atlantic

    Harald under sail

    Hide the family jewels! The Vikings are coming! The 115-foot Norse longship Draken Hårald Harfagre has just set out from Norway and is bound to North America via Iceland and Greenland. Ultimately Hårald and her crew plan to roam as far inland as the Great Lakes before raiding the Big Apple and Mystic Seaport in September and October.

  • VOLVO OCEAN RACE: Supernatural Bird Attack and Vestas Grounding Video

    Bird attack

    The birds are not happy with Team Alvimedica, who stood by so selflessly at Cargados Carajos Shoals waiting to help their shipwrecked mates on Team Vestas Wind. I read somewhere the other day that Cargados Carajos actually means something like Bird Excrement Island, so I'm wondering if that is relevant. What happened evidently is the boat was mobbed yesterday right around sunset by a huge gang of black noddy terns.

    You needn't take my word for it, you can watch the video right here:

    Very bizarre. Only time I've ever seen birds behave like this is around fishing boats.

  • VOLVO OCEAN RACE: Team Vestas Wind Wrecked

    Vestas aground

    Here's one way to get cruising sailors interested in the ongoing Volvo Ocean Race--have one competitor pile up on a reef at night in the middle of nowhere. It was definitely NOT a happy Thanksgiving holiday weekend for the crew on the VOR65 Team Vestas Wind, as they hit Cargados Carajos Shoals (a.k.a. Saint Brandon Shoals) 200 miles north of Mauritius on Saturday while racing in leg 2 of the Volvo race, from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi. Reportedly, they were making 18 knots at the time.

    Ouch! This is why crew on these boats always fall asleep in their berths with their feet facing bulkheads.

    Another competitor, Team Alvimedica, which has since resumed racing, stood by the grounded boat for several hours until all the crew were safely off and local authorities arrived on the scene. The Vestas crew, who initially had to evacuate on to the reef itself, are now all ashore and are plotting how best to salvage their vessel.

  • VOYAGING WITH KIDS: The Ultimate Guide for Cruising Families

    Kids cover

    Lin Pardey gave me a hug and handed me a copy of this book when I saw her at Annapolis, and now I’ve finally gotten around to reading it. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Of course, I do have to admit I am biased. I know and have worked with several of the people involved in creating the book--two of the authors, the publisher, and the editor--but I wouldn’t be pimping it if it wasn’t good. All these people are some of the best in the business.

    I can think of many magazine articles I’ve read (and edited) over the years on this subject--how to live the cruising dream with kids in tow--but offhand I can’t think of any books. And the big problem with all those articles is they are always written by just one person, so you get a necessarily narrow perspective on what is ultimately an extremely multi-faceted subject. After all, there about as many different ways to be a cruising family as there are families out there cruising. (I am remembering, for example, a family of four I once met in the Canaries who were having the time of their lives--on a boat just 18 feet long!) The very cool thing about this book it that it has three different authors, all of them highly experienced cruising parents, plus they have elicited opinions and information from many dozens of other cruisers, including a big bunch of cruising kids who have since grown into adulthood.



Total Cruise Control

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