Tuesday 24 February 2009

South Seas Tradewind Sailing Passage to the Marquesas

Picking up a recent copy of the excellent sailing magazine 'Ocean Navigator' I was totally gobsmacked by the image on the cover. It was taken from up the mast looking down into the cockpit on a brilliant South Seas tropical day - with the crystal sharp atmospheric clarity only found in this part of the world - sailing downwind 'on passage' to the Marquesas Islands or Isles de Marqesas if you are French.

All sails are set and full, the boat is moving beautifully and the captain in ragged shorts and faded cap is 'standing watch' clasping a chilled glass of chardonnay - all is well in the world!

This image(to the right) sent such a sharp piercing into my soul I was stunned into immobility for several minutes reminiscing. It took me back ten years previously when I was sailing my own yacht 'Tere Moana' down the identical route. It was so vivid in my memory that I had to retire immediately to the nearest cafe to read the article in 'Ocean Navigator'.

Needless to say the remainder of that afternoon drifted by in a fog of happy memories!

The article was written by Josh Warren-White on the sailboat s/v 'Bahati' out of Freeport, Maine, USA.
That's Josh to the right 'on watch'!

His Mum and Dad are Nat and Betsy Warren-White who are circumnavigating on 'Bahati' and are currently 'on the hard' in Auckland New Zealand, carrying out much needed repairs and maintenance prior to setting sail on their next leg toward Vanuatu April/May.

As I checked the details that afternoon I was struck many times over of the similarities between the two sets of voyagers. The boats are the same length of 12.5 metres(43ft.), build year of 1988 the same for both vessels, both keel stepped for strength and both well found vessels for ocean voyaging.

The routes sailed were practically identical with ports of call San Blas Islands, Panama, Galapagos Islands, Marquesas, Tuamotus, French Polynesia, Nuie, Tonga and on down to New Zealand (they for their first visit, me, returning home). Both 'Bahati' and 'Tere Moana' struck 'Big' weather on the passage from Tonga to Opua in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand.

To cap it off finally, when I set sail on the Pacific crossing, I departed from Kennebunkport, Maine, USA, which is a very short sail up the coast from Freeport!

Reading through the article and following 'Bahati' and crews' exploits, I was re-reading my own voyage and the memories came flooding back so strongly that I lost all track of time.

So, all of you budding voyagers, whatever level your planning has reached and more particularly if you are still in the dreaming stage, press on, get started and let nothing get in the way of you leaving port for the first time on Your voyage of a lifetime.

Nat and Betsy have their own website and blog and you can check out their progress and latest adventures on http://www.bahati.net/

Images courtesy Nat and Betsy Warren-White

You can read much more about ocean voyaging and passagemaking in my ebook 'Voyage of the Little Ship 'Tere Moana' downloadable from my website http://www.sailboat2adventure.com/

Tuesday 17 February 2009

Dee Caffari Sails into History in Vendee Globe Sailboat Race

Here is an adventure way outside of the cruising yachtsmans' goals, but noteworthy nonetheless for the fantastic achievement of this single handed English sailor Dee Caffari.

Crossing the finish line in Les Sable D'Olonne at 13.13 GMT on february 16th., with her main in tatters, Dee Caffari becomes the first woman in history to sail around the globe single handed in both directions. She did it first(the 'wrong way around' in 2005) and now completed the toughest single handed race, the Vendee Globe in sixth position. Another English girl Sam Davies finished fourth, two places ahead of her. This really is a major achievement considering that out of the thirty Open 60 starters, nineteen have had to retire.

The following is the final entry from Dees' diary as she approaches the finish line:

'I can hear her, yes it is faint at the moment but I can definitely hear a rather large lady tuning up ready to let rip into song. And there in front of me is the finish line against the backdrop of Les Sables D'Olonne.

I am already feeling slightly emotional that this incredible journey is about to come to an end, although both skipper and boat are tired and ready for a rest.

'Aviva' has done a wonderful job at keeping me safe and sailing me quickly whenever she could -and during the course of this race I have developed as a racing offshore sailor. To be still racing after so many miles, still trying to catch the boat in front has kept me focused and determined and keen as anything to stay in this class.

In the space of two years I have learnt so much that I would relish the opportunity to have another four years experience of this boat, another four years confidence and come back to the Vendee Globe so see how I fair next time.

A huge contributing factor to keeping me pushing day after day are the many messages of support I receive from around the world. It is truly amazing and they really do make a difference onboard when I read them. They pick me up when I am feeling down and encourage me when things are good.

I would like to say a huge thank you to all who have written, together we have just achieved a great thing. We have finished the Vendee Globe Race and now I have become the only female to sail single handed, non stop around the world in both directions.'

Extract courtesy Dee Caffari and images courtesy Aviva.

Simple words, but bursting with so much emotion coming up to the finish line.

You can see from the accompanying images the shredded conditon of her mainsail at the finish and can only wonder. It started delaminating 10,000 nautical miles out, in the Southern Ocean and she had to drop it nine times to patch it. This is all the more remarkable as she was still racing and averaged close on twelve knots for the whole race.

Also note the size of the Southern Ocean waves in the trough as she sails south of New Zealand.

Three cheers for women in sailing.

Several boats are yet to finish and you can catch up with current results as they happen on www.vendeeglobe.org

You can read more about ocean sailing in my ebook 'Voyage of the Little Ship 'Tere Moana' downloadable from my website http://www.sailboat2adventure.com

Monday 9 February 2009

New Beneteau Oceanis 54 Sailboat in the Offing for Australia

The first of this sleek new offering from Beneteau is onboard ship and closing fast on Australian waters. Last year I posted a blog(see 'New Oceanis 54 from Beneteau', 04 July 2008) prior to the Sydney Boat Show. An incredible amount of interest has resulted from that posting with many visitors searching for more details of this new vessel.

I can reliably inform you that the first one of these keenly awaited boats is now less than two months away. On its arrival it will be based at Vicsails' facility in Rushcutters Bay, Sydney.

The yachting magazines are yet to publish their boat tests on this new Berret-Racoupeau designed variant from Beneteau so here is an extract from the UK agents, Ancasta Yachts:

Sea views: The Super Yacht expertise of Nauta Design is very clear in the interior space and accommodation of the Océanis 54. The hull ports together with the long deck plexiglass windows bring natural light and give a view over the sea which will delight aesthetes. As to the deck, access to the sea is by means of a wide, very comfortable stern skirt.

Handling: Thanks to its well-sized deck gear and a wisely designed running rigging plan, the flagship of the range remains a boat that is extremely easy to handle and, in particular, can be sailed short-handed. Also of note is the capstan type windlass, the arrangement of which is inspired by the Super Yachts.

Accessibility: The OCEANIS 54 is generous with its real living spaces (saloon, cockpit) in an Owner’s layout version (3 cabins + forepeak cabin). In addition, BENETEAU makes a 54 footer more affordable than ever thanks to a powerful pricing position for a boat of this size (indicative list price ex tax: 249,900 Euros, 322,327 USD, 489,679 AUD).

Principal features:
Balanced, comfortable hull for good average daily runs whilst cruising.
Easy access forward: wide, safe side decks, coachroof shape, handrails etc.
Deck gear and running rigging plan designed to allow short-handed sailing.
Electric primary winches.
Twin steering wheel positions, a large table for a very friendly cockpit.
Spacious sea galley built-in beneath the companionway capable of accommodating any appliances needed for comfort.

Long cruising range: 970 litres fresh water and 475 litres fuel.
Two levels of trim for real luxury: ‘Avantage’ and ‘Elégance’.
Length overall: 16.7mWaterline length:
WL: 15mMaximum
Beam: 4.9m
Light displacement: 14,450 kg
Draught (shallow keel option): 1.8m
Draught (standard deep keel): 2.3m
Sail area - mainsail: 69m²Sail area - genoa: 85m² (135%)Sail area – asymetric spinnaker: 170m²

Design: Berret Racoupeau

Design and interior design: Nauta Design
Engine : Yanmar 110HP diesel
Fuel capacity: 475 L
Fresh water capacity: 970 L
Sailing categories requested A12/B13/C14

These good looking boats are going to be in great demand, and even in these turbulent times there will be a number of folks ready to be the first on Australian waters with one.

Master agents for Australia are Vicsail and you can view them on http://www.vicsail.com/

The first arrival will be based at the marina in Rushcutters Bay. You can contact Micah Lane on micah@vicsail.com there for further details.

Sub agents are 'Sydney Yachting Centre' at Middle Harbour Yacht Club, The Spit Marina, where Dave Wilkinson will be happy to talk to you about the new '54'. You can contact Dave on sales@sydneyyachtingcentre.com.au

Extract and images reproduced courtesy Ancasta Yachts UK.

You can read more about the cruising lifestyle in my ebook 'Voyage of the Little Ship 'Tere Moana', downloadable from my website http://www.sailboat2adventure.com

Friday 6 February 2009

Rocna Anchoring 'Knowledge Base' for Sailors/Sailboats

Anchoring your sailboat successfully in many new and strange anchorages and in all kinds of weather can be one of the most traumatic and frustrating exercises in your cruising calendar.

It therefore pays to have first rate gear and a good knowledge of how to go about it in a safe and seamanlike manner.

In my post last year about anchoring (see my blog 'Delta Anchor Real Life Test' 28 May 2008) we looked at deploying a new Delta anchor for the first time. Included was a comprehensive test on fourteen anchors, ranging from traditional Danforth, CQR styles to the more modern types now available.

One of these was the Kiwi built Rocna anchor which rated very highly in the survey.

Rocna naturally, have their own website at http://www.rocna.com/ and included in it now they have what they call an anchoring 'Knowledge base'. This is well worth a read and you can view it on http://www.rocna.com/kb/Main_Page (underscore between Main and Page).

There you will find a host of anchoring knowledge which will have you drooling and impatient to get out on the water and put it to good use. Even the 'Old Hands' will find interesting information contained in it. Just reading the section on 'scope' v 'catenary' and looking at the graph is enlightening.

The following is an extract from that section:

Limits of catenary:
The problem with catenary is that it does not really provide that much assistance. While the force required to pull a length of chain bar tight is extremely high, the force required to straighten out most of its curve is actually relatively low. So we must then examine the anchor's requirements, what it is capable of handling at any given angle of pull and for any given seabed, and how this compares to the forces that can be expected to eliminate most of the catenary curve from the rode.

In the West Marine testing in 2006, anchors around the 15 kg (33 lb) size were tested, with a rode consisting of 1" (25mm) nylon rope with a 20' (6m) leader of 5/16" (8mm) chain. The Rocna was the top performing anchor – Yachting Monthly reported "The Rocna was a powerful, impressive performer in our tests, recording instant sets at multiple 5,000 lb maximum (or near max) pulls at 5:1 scope." The behavior of the rode at these limits of performance were described by SAIL magazine, who commented that "the anchor's resistance produces whirlpools of turbulence [from the test vessel's propellers]... and a bar-tight cable."

So, it is clear that modern anchors are very efficient. Some, particularly the Rocna, also endure high pull angles fairly well, even in poor holding seabeds. This means that the range of force vectors that the anchor can handle is quite wide, and it turns out that the majority of rode make-ups (at least those that are practical) lose most of their catenary curve well before the anchor is likely to be troubled. Beyond this point (once the rode is effectively straightened), the weight of the chain makes absolutely no difference to what the anchor will do, and the sole factor of import is the geometrical scope.

What does this mean?
The practical consequence of this is that it is not necessary to carry heavy chain merely for the sake of it. Rather, chain can and should be as light as possible, subject to strength requirements. Many boats could loose a large amount of weight by swapping to a lighter but stronger chain, and then investing part of that weight back into a larger anchor. Performance (holding power) of the system is thus substantially improved, while total weight is actually lowered. Read more in the chain section.

This extract reproduced courtesy Rocna Anchors.

You can read more about anchoring adventures in the Atlantic, Caribbean and Pacific Islands in my ebook 'Voyage of the Little Ship 'Tere Moana' downloadable from my website http:/www.sailboat2adventure.com