Thursday, November 1, 2018

Happy 50th Birthday, Hobie Cat!



This year, the Hobie Cat turned 50 years old. Developed by surfer Hobie Alter, who was credited with building the first one in 1965 with a design that could be easily beached. Since 1967, the company has been building a variety of sizes and styles, but it's the Hobie 16 that really revolutionized sailing. The Hobie 16 was easily trailerable, easily beached and didn't cost a fortune. It took a rich man's sport and made it accessible to all. Over 135,000 Hobie 16 Cats are sailing around the world. They were fun, they were fast, and they were accessible.

Me and my Hobie 18
The Hobie 18 was the first boat I owned back around 1982. I was sorry we didn't go with the Hobie 16 as the 18 had a few issues the 16 didn't. With it's plumb bow it tended to submarine into waves, causing the person out on the trapeze to go sailing through the air around the forestay. It was also about 100 pounds heavier than the 16 which made dragging it up the beach a bit more challenging. And forget about dumping it. To right it, I had to tie a plastic bag full of water around my waist to get enough ballast to flip it over. It was a b___ch!

But I loved it. There was such exhilaration being suspended out over the water at breakneck speed. We trailered that boat all over the East Coast, dropping it into lakes and ocean beaches wherever we went. The only problem was, if the wind died, you were really stuck. I remember many times walking the boat along the shores for miles to get back to the trailer. But it was worth it.

Hobie Alter died in 2014, RIP. But he gave many people a chance to experience the thrill of sailing.

My next boat was twice the size, a Sabre 36. My cruising life had begun.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Camera etiquette

I paid Crazy Glue Mechanic for this photo. 

As sailors who take our vessels to distant lands, we want to preserve our memories. But the rules about what is acceptable behaviour, especially behind a camera lens, are different in many places around the world. I have the belief that if in doubt, ask permission or don't take the picture.

In one place I visited, people believed that if you took their photo, they lost their spirit. Clearly taking their photo with or without permission was a no-no.

I took a picture of a sign in front of a house on an island once and a man came scurrying out asking for money for the photo I took. I gave him what he asked and went on my way. Another time I took a photo of a band playing on a street and the band leader got angry with me for not paying him or buying a CD. I don't have a CD player so it wouldn't have done me any good. I also felt that if they were taking up public street space, they are fair game for photos. If they're playing in a private venue, they have a right to ask not to be photographed.

I remember wanting to take a photo of a particularly striking woman walking down a dirt road in the Caribbean. She had the darkest shade of skin, a brilliant pink dress, a colourful head scarf, a basket on her head and a machete in her hand. I felt it would have been impertinent to take a photo of her but I didn't want to insult her by asking when she stopped to chat. I ended up taking a picture of her from behind when she walked away. And I felt bad about doing so. I have since only taken pictures if I was given permission to do so.

Shutterstock has a very good discussion with leading photographers about camera etiquette around the world.


Sunday, October 28, 2018

What climate change means to sailing



The last few weeks were extraordinary for storms around the world. It's a strange conundrum that although weather forecasting is getting better, the weather overall is getting worse - more extreme and less stable.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Weather resources



As weather resources change and new ones are added all the time, I thought it would be useful to keep track of some favourite online sites. Most are for route planning purposes. With climate change, it's more important than ever to stay ahead of the game. 

Frank Singleton's Weather Page has everything listed and keeps it up to date. 


Thursday, October 25, 2018

Plastics in the ocean


The headline, "Plastic Can Take 500 Years To Bio-Degrade In The Ocean," caught my attention today together with an infographic that backs up the statement. The data was obtained from NOAA and Woods Hole Sea Grant and the infographic was created by statista. I'm assuming some maths genius calculated the rate of degradation of certain plastics and projected it on a timeline, otherwise no one would have actually observed the rate of decay over 500 years, unless of course he or she were time travelers. But it is a serious problem for the oceans and it seems people are finally waking up. Little did Dustin Hoffman know in The Graduate about the effect 'plastics' would have on our world.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

World record number of boats in a regatta



This past weekend, a race called the Barcolana took place in the Gulf of Trieste, Italy. It attracted a world record number of yachts - 2,689 boats crossed the start line. It was the 50th edition of this race and even the the Amerigo Vespucci,  a 270.34 ft. long tall ship, symbol of the Italian Navy, joined in. I don't know about you, but I'm a bit claustrophobic and not at all inclined to play bumper boats. The density of yachts and white sails is overwhelming. The winners were local brothers Furio and Gabriele Benussi on Spirit of Portopiccolo

Friday, September 28, 2018

Aleria on the hard



Our boat was hauled out at Astilleros Lagos in Bouzas near Vigo, Spain yesterday. The boatyard is legendary and has been hauling and launching vessels using a complex system of custom built cradles on a rail for almost a century. We were not present when they hauled her but it looks like they had good weather and plenty of water.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Marina in Bantry




An Ocean Cruising Club friend and fellow member of the Committee Bill Balme was sheltering in Bantry. Since we haven't been there since the marina opened, I asked him for a report. Here's what he had to say. 
  • Good experience at Bantry - very nice harbormaster, Michael.
  • Very small marina - I reckon with all the local small boats, there's probably room for maybe 4 - 6 visiting yachts.
  • One female and one gents toilet
  • Good security
  • Water & Electric on the very solid pontoons. Good wifi - even reaches the moorings (but slow there).
  • Cost us €20 per night.
  • We were also on one of their moorings which he charged us €5 per night - though published rate is €10.
  • Very sheltered harbour.
Looks like we'll have to plan a visit. 


Friday, September 21, 2018

Staying put - loss of ambition with age



For the first time in my life, I have experienced a loss of ambition. It happened just as we were heading off to sail for two weeks in Galicia. I had no interest in traveling or sailing, but I didn't say anything to anyone. When we got there, I had no interest in sailing off. As it happened, our 'niece' Joan was taking part in a race which was coming in to Portosin where our boat was. It suited me fine to stay put in the marina for several days, something we would never have done before.

I read books, hung out, did little chores, walked into town, answered email - nothing very stressful. We lived.

After we sailed out to see the start of the race, we sailed over to the Ria de Aldan and dropped anchor. The next day Alex asked if it was okay to stay at anchor another day. We stayed four more.

I read books, hung out, did little chores, walked into town, answered email - nothing very stressful. We lived. I was perplexed.

We sailed around the corner to Ensenada de Barra and dropped anchor (after we managed to get the chain out of the locker where it had gotten stuck again) for one night then motored across the Ria to Vigo and tied up to the pontoon at the Liceo de Maritimo in Bouzas. We stayed there for three days.

I read books, hung out, did little chores, walked into town, answered email - nothing very stressful. We did have to pack up the boat. We took off the sails and dodger, Alex stowed the dinghy and ropes while I did the laundry and cleaned. Otherwise, we lived.

Since we've come home, I've felt that same lack of ambition, so today I decided to look into it. Seems that ambition tends to dwindle with age. It also tends to be blunted by depression. I don't feel depression coming on, but I do feel my age creeping up. One day while in Galicia, Alex and I decided we had reached the age of invisibility. People walking past us didn't even notice we were there. We weren't insulted; we rather relished the thought.

So what is it about age and ambition? In this stage of aging, I suppose that ego is losing its momentum, like an engine running out of petrol. I no longer have a goal orientation that drove me through so much of my life. Those great ambitions that raised tidal waves of energy no longer propel my life. Success means something entirely different now.

Instead, I am content with day-to-day activities that float in and out of my sphere of consciousness like flotsam and jetsam on the tide, the tide that will one day carry me out to sea and drop me on another shore. Daily chores and appointments, the short-term practical objectives of cleaning the house, paying the bills, and seeing the dentist take center stage as the constant elements in our lives. And contentment sets in. This is not depression. This is a new stage of being. Of living, not working, not rushing, not searching, not conquering, not achieving. Just living in contentment.

One day while we were on Aleria, I realized how content I was. I've never been content, always searching for more, wanting to see new things, not 'waste' any time. Instead, the present moment has become a time for contemplation, reflection, remembering and wonderment. There's a peace settling in. And an appreciation for what I have, not what I am missing. It is time to enjoy and be thankful for my amazing husband whom I cherish, my family and friends, my cats, food, drink, the boat, and the gardens. It's a time of increasing simplicity and stillness of spirit.

Gone is FOMO - the fear of missing out. Days blur together, the sky turns from light to dark and light again, rain comes and goes, and I grow a little older as the earth spins on its tilted axis. I know the embers are gradually getting dimmer, and winter is approaching. I settle in to observe the mystery of life around me, to float on a divine tide, undulating with rhythm but not a perfectly repeated pattern. It is a surprising time, one I've never heard mentioned before.

It's strange to lack motivation and ambition. As a writer, I have had the goal of writing the great American novel. Now I wonder if I will ever write anything monumental. Indeed, I wonder what difference it would make if I did? Big ideas come and go, but nothing inspires me to act. I am prone to writing poetry - short and poignant -  and indeed took the initiative to sign up for a one day poetry course. That's a short-term commitment I can live with.

It's strange to lack motivation, not to be propelled through challenges, solving problems, launching global brands, crossing oceans, always reaching for a new level of success. It's strange not to strive for some new accomplishment on the horizon as it takes shape in my mind. Perhaps this time of inertia is just a natural rest period. Perhaps I will get over it, and enter a tidal stream that sweeps me off on a new journey yet to be defined.

But in the interim, I am content to just watch the horizon; study the light playing on the hills, the clouds getting caught on mountain tops and spinning off as flying saucers, the rain blanketing the green hills in darkness as it sweeps from across the sea and over land. The present becomes etched into my soul, every moment of its beauty preserved. I wait, I watch, I remain still.

I started out grieving over my ambition's absence. I thought I had lost something powerful and profound. But now I relish the stillness and contentment. My cats snore in the chair next to me and stretch as they snuggle together for warmth. I stoke the embers of my soul, wrap myself in my warm new blanket of contentment and breathe deeply. I've never been shallow, just rushing from one activity to the next. Perhaps I am discovering something more profound. With nothing to achieve besides stillness, my life is becoming more deeply rooted in this place. I am alive. I am content. This is what I have been searching for all my life. I am home.


Saturday, September 15, 2018

September in Vigo

View from the maritime museum toward Bouzas

We are docked at the Liceo de Maritimo in Bouzas, Vigo preparing Aleria for her winter at the Astilleros Lagos boatyard. We've removed the sails and other sundry items from the deck, stowed the dinghy, cleaned out the fridge, swept up and done the laundry. Yesterday, Alberto Lagos stopped by and we reviewed all the work we'd like done over the winter. He is such a gentle and kind man. We are fortunate to consider him and all the Lagos family our friends. It is very warm and dry but not unpleasant. The climate here is much to be desired.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Fog in Galicia




We departed from the Ria de Muros y Noia with the Figaro fleet in the afternoon. The wind died so we motored to Illa Salvora, our favourite island, feeling pity for the poor Solitaire fleet attempting to round Finisterre.

La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro - the challenge!



La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro single-handed race is run in stages of about 500 miles each. It is known as the preparatory event for sailors contemplating the Vendee Globe, the non-stop around the world solo challengethat is the ultimate test of endurance on the high seas. Our 'niece', Joan Mulloy has her sights set on the Vendee and this year entered the Solitaire to test her mettle.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Northwest Passage in 2018 - no easy transit.




About a week ago, the Canadian Coast Guard sent out a message warning hopeful adventurers that ice in the NWP is heavier than normal and that, should a vessel get into trouble, the CCG might not be able to rescue them. They should be prepared to spend a winter aboard. That means they would have had to have packed enough food for the entire crew for a long winter in terrible conditions. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Small old boats in the Southern Ocean



If you are following the Golden Globe Race, then you are aware of the carnage out there. Several yachts have retired and it was announced overnight that Norwegian skipper Are Wiig's Olleanna was rolled and dismasted overnight.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Atlantic Hurricane Season



This time last year, the Atlantic was chock a block with tropical storm activity. This year, as we head into peak season, the silence is deafening. We got our first TS remnants yesterday as Ernesto came through, dumping lots of rain but otherwise fairly benign. Friends had thought about spending more time in Ireland, arriving around next week but I advised against it, as the west coast in the autumn can be very wet and windy as the TS barrel their way across the Atlantic towards our west coast. Was I alarmist? Possibly. So I looked up what the 'experts' were saying.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Collaboration with WindGuru



Our little sailing club in the west of Ireland has to deal with lots of weather. After all, everything that gets cooked up over in the states, crosses the Atlantic and picks up more punch along the way to dump it over here. So last year, when our anemometer was blown away in a storm, literally, we decided to partner with WindGuru to create a weather station that would deliver a community service as well. The result was a new weather station at Mayo Sailing Club with weather cam that now provides a feed to WindGuru for more accurate results on Clew Bay.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

OCC Port Officer Welcome



Yesterday, Alex and I put on our Ocean Cruising Club Port Officer hats to welcome two OCC members visiting our home town Westport by land. Duncan and Ria Briggs, circumnavigators, have sold their boat which they lived on for 12 years and bought a cottage in England. While waiting for their planning permission to come through for modifications to the tiny cottage by the sea they snapped up, they decided to tour Ireland. We don't get many OCC visitors to our neck of the seas, only 6 to date counting the Briggs - 4 by sea.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Chartering in the Med



Alex and I decided that it would be much saner to charter in the places we want to sail in the Med rather than keep our boat there for the short times off season we'd be using her. The Med has been so hot in the summer, crowded and expensive. The fact that Italy is now turning away migrant vessels and grounding rescue vessels is a complication we don't want to have to deal with either.

Lo and behold, we come home and our friend Grant Headifen sends us notice of a new service he has launched. A global database of comparative yacht charter pricing. We trust Grant because we wrote the anchoring course that's part of his accredited sailing certification curriculum on NauticEd. 

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Book review - Murder at the Marina


While in Portugal, I downloaded and read Ellen Jacobson's debut novel.  I 'met' Ellen online on the Facebook group Women Who Sail Who Write. It's a wonderfully informative and supportive group for writers who mostly live aboard their boats. I have been very impressed with Ellen's contributions to the group and was very excited for her when she announced completion of her first novel.

I posted a review on Goodreads. I tried to share that review directly to my blog but couldn't get it to work. So here it is, with 5 stars. I loved it!  Well done, Ellen. And thanks for the entertaining read.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

We're set to go

Alex and Tatiana 

Vodka at RCNP
Well they got us into our berth first thing this morning and we've been tidying up ever since. Alex has the lines tied and chafe protectors secured. The fridge is cleaned out, the bicycles are stowed. All the prep work that goes with putting a boat to bed for a bit has been done.

Last night, we decided to have dinner at the RCNP yacht club which has a beautiful club house. Shortly after we were seated, Alex and Tatiana stopped by and joined us for drinks as we ate tapas. We had a delightful conversation about crossing oceans and everything else in Russian and Ukrainian, which unfortunately Alex couldn't take part in. I periodically stopped to translate something funny or important, and every once in a while, Alex added some bit of information in English having semi followed the flow. It was an enjoyable dinner.