Another reason I love Key West.

The man recording this video was a neighbor of mine when I was living at anchor on SV Third Aye and working at Key West SNUBA. His name is Carl Drysdale.

Carl Drysdale

Not only did he help look after my boat when I was away, he introduced me to the growing popularity of YouTube back then. Just today I decided to look up his You Tube account and see what he has been up to lately. I came across this 7-year-old yet still amazing example of what the salty boating people are like down in Key West. From what I can see, this has been recorded on the fuel dock of the Key West Bight Marina, which is in front of Turtle Kraals. Man, how I love Key West.

Key West Bight Marina
Key West Bight Marina

You have to give this guy a listen. Carl doesn’t give us the name of the talent. However, I can tell you that this is a Gene Autry song from 1939 called “South of the Border.” I especially like the “Aye Aye Aye” part. Call it a tribute to SV Third Aye, our adventures in Mexico, and the realization it’s time to go.

2015 ARC Europe – Leopard 48 “Dala” wins

After sailing 11 days from Bermuda to Horta, Azores, the sailing catamaran “Dala” is bound to finish first in just a couple of hours. I have been following her across the ocean, reading the blogs from the owner and captain, Albert Levy.

Leopard 48 finishes first at Horta
Leopard 48 finishes first at Horta

This is Albert’s first time across an ocean, and he has hired an experienced captain to assist him and his partner. He made a wise choice, because his journey from the BVI’s to Bermuda involved some broken parts on the top of his mainsail.

I read his detailed description of exactly what went wrong and how he got excellent service in Bermuda to make repairs. Now since Lindsay and I may have a similar rig, I have made a mental note to bring along some extra parts for this rigging!

Doyle Anomaly Headboard system on a Leopard 48 catamaran
Doyle Anomaly Headboard system on a Leopard 48 catamaran – CLICK FOR VIDEO

After this system was repaired in Bermuda, they set off bound for Horta, Azores on May 20th. After a few days at sea, the main halyard broke, which is the white line you see above. The entire mailsail came falling down in the middle of the night. This is unfortunate but perhaps the line was damaged when the parts broke on the previous journey. Anyway, the experienced captain that Albert brought with him was able to use a smaller line on board to raise their sail again, but only part of the way as to not overload the line and break it again. This means they never sailed under full sail or near their top speed again for the remainder of the trip. Yet somehow, they have managed to finish first! Why is that?

They were the first boat to take a more northerly route, and there were stronger winds up there. Also, I think the Leopard 48 is a fast boat. The other Leopard 48 in this same rally is sailing vessel “Widago.” They are bound to finish 2nd in the catamaran class and 8th in the rally. As you can see from their pictures, they don’t necessarily look like hard core sailors that are hungry for a win!

The crew of SV Widago and SV Dala in the 2015 ARC Europe
The crew of SV Widago and SV Dala in the 2015 ARC Europe.

Watching them perform well even through the mishaps gives me confidence to make the same journey myself.

2015 ARC Europe – About sailing fast

A CATAMARAN LEADS THE PACK AT HALFWAY TO THE AZORES!

After spending a few days enjoying Bermuda’s hospitality, yachts sailing under the flags of 20 different nations left St. George’s Harbour in Bermuda on May 20th to make the 1800 nautical mile journey to Horta in the Azores.

St-Georges-Harbour-Yachts-Bermuda-May-16-2015-3
St. George’s Town, Bermuda is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The group set sail from Tortola in the British Virgin Islands on May 9th as part of the ARC Europe and ARC USA Spring Rallies, with more than forty boats sailing with ARC Europe this year; thirty leaving from Tortola and six from Virginia, USA for the first stage of the rally, which was a passage to Bermuda where a further seven yachts joined in.

The current leader is “Dala”, a Leopard 48 sailing catamaran. This is very similar to a sailboat that Lindsay and I plan to purchase in December of this year. Our current options are these similarly priced sailboats aging from 6 to 16 years old: Lagoon 44, Leopard 45, Bahia 46, or Leopard 47. Does this mean that we have a chance to sail faster than the rest of the pack when we make this journey next year? Perhaps. Let me tell you why.

Halfway to the Azores

Generally, the larger the boat, the faster it can go. For a displacement boat, a heavy deep-keel boat, the maximum speed a given hull can attain from wind power is called “hull speed” and is largely dependent on the waterline length of the boat. Hull speed is expressed as 1.34 X the square root of LWL, or length of waterline. This Leopard 48, “Dala” has a waterline length of 45 feet 5 inches, she should be able to sail 1.34 x 6.74, which is 9.03  knots. If we purchased a Lagoon 44, it has a waterline length of 41 feet 10 inches so the hull speed would be 8.67 knots, which is 0.36 knots slower than “Dala”. This means over the course of 24 hours, “Dala” will theoretically sail 8.6 nautical miles farther that a Lagoon 44. In theory then, everything else being the same, a 44 foot sailboat must sail for one hour longer each day to cover the same distance as a 48 foot sailboat! So according to the math, it is impossible to sail faster than a longer boat.

But as you can imagine, there’s more to it than that. For example, just because one car’s engine is bigger than it’s competitor doesn’t guarantee it will win the race! “Dala” is leading this race with the third place boat being a Hallberg Rassy 54, which has waterline of 46.9 feet and a hull speed 0.15 faster than her. Clearly “Dala” is doing better than the others even though it’s hull speed is slower. Why is that?

Most of the time due to the condition of the boat, light winds, headwinds or opposing waves, sailboats are not traveling at their maximum hull speed. However, there are simple things that sailors can do to their boats to make them go faster through the water. For starters, keeping a very clean bottomside and having the sails and rigging “tuned up” makes a bigger difference than a couple of feet of waterline.

The most important thing about sailing fast, however, is knowing which course to take and how to trim the sails. Just a few degrees off course or having one sail overtrimmed can change the boat’s speed by almost a knot.

Sail Trim

The entire crew has to understand what the boat needs and work together for days on end to give the boat what it wants before they can achieve the fastest speed through the ocean. Sailing fast is important but it’s not always about winning. There’s a little more to it than that.

For us, it’s not about winning a race or being the best at something because we are cruisers. Being in the right place at the right time is the goal. A good sailor has researched the best ETA and then calculated the expected travel time to determine when to depart. Whether sailing down a coastline or crossing an ocean, it’s about adapting to changing conditions and doing one’s part to maintain the expected ETA.

The Harbour at Horta, Azores
The Harbour at Horta, Azores

At the end of the journey, all we want is to arrive in the right harbor with two very important conditions in our favor. We need to arrive with the sun high and behind us so we can see the buoys or the bottom and with the right level of tide so we can safely navigate inside without hitting anything. Then we can secure the boat, clear in with the authorities and get on with exploring the next exciting destination! Someday soon, we’d like for you to join us and find out for yourself.

Scuba in the Maldives – Post 5

Batfish Inside the Atoll

One of the nice things about diving on the inside was swimming with the Bat Fish. They are curiously social and love to swim next to divers to get a closer look, while many other species of fish tend to swim away and hide.

By the start of the second week of diving three times each day, some of the people aboard were not diving every time. For Lindsay and I the underlying drive to not miss anything was stronger than the desire to rest! I did, however, end up skipping one out of the 36 dives, so I could sleep in. Lindsay made every trip!

This video is from all three dives on the same day, which were are on the inside of an atoll, which means the conditions are calmer and the fish and creatures tend to be a bit smaller than when diving on the ocean side of a reef. Every time we dove this day, there were Bat Fish.

 

Scuba in the Maldives – Post 4

MORE Mantis Shrimp!

Enjoy this scuba in the Maldives music video including appearances by a Leaf Fish, exposed coral polyps, a Mantis Shrimp, and a school of Sweetlips. 

2015 ARC Europe – Post 2

Almost to Bermuda

On the 9th of May, 2015, 51 boats were off to a breezy start of about 16 knots, gusting to 19 knots in Nanny Cay, Tortola for ARC Europe & ARC USA 2015 rallies. As the horn sounded at 12 noon, first to cross the line were ‘Rhea’, with a sneaky move around the buoy marker, followed closely by ‘Doppelbock’ in second and ‘Mahe 3’ in third. Six of the ARC USA boats decided to get underway early to make their way to Florida. In the multi-hull division, at a later start of 1210pm saw ‘Mantra 2’ cross the line first followed by ‘GEM’ in second and ‘Intrepid Elk’ in third.

 

ARC Europe Leopard 38

Now, three days later, I’m watching “Widago” take 5th place out of 51 boats. She is sailing on a beam reach, which is probably a very fast point of sail for her. “Widago” is a Leopard 48, one of the few catamaran models that we are considering to purchase at the end of this hurricane season, which is around mid-November. I’m very pleased about the idea of cruising at almost 9 knots, which would be about three times faster than our old boat “Third Aye.”

When will they finish this leg to Bermuda? Well let’s do a little math for “Widago”.  Speed = Distance / Time. Therefore, Time = Distance / Speed.

DTF (Distance to finish) = 212.1 NM and Speed =8.7 knots (NM/hour). Therefore, Time to finish is 212.1 / 8.7 = 24 hours.

I wonder how “Widago” will do on the trip across the ocean, which is typically a downwind route.

There are only six boats that will be leaving from Portsmouth, VA today. They are joining the 51 other in Bermuda, before heading across the ocean together, bound for the Azores and beyond. Their start was delayed by Tropical Storm Ana.

Lindsay and I plan to join them next year.

Scuba in the Maldives – Post 2

Mantis Shrimp Encounter

On day 7, we went diving on several “Thilas”, pronounced “Til’ us”. According to Wikipedia, Thila is a village in west-Central Yemen. In the Maldives, it is slang for the very tall and cylindrical steep-walled underwater coral formations with flat tops a few meters underwater. Just think of the Roadrunner cartoon landscape but with bright corals attached to the sides and tops of the skinny plateaus, surrounded by deep blue water. This video is a combination clips taken of the many corals, fish and creatures we saw during the day’s diving on these formations. The star of the show is the Mantis Shrimp!

Did you know that Mantis Shrimps smash the shells of their prey with club-shaped arms? Reportedly they strike with the force of a bullet! The swing is so fast that water actually cavitates, which means small air bubbles form behind the moving club. Even if they don’t hit their intended target, the bubbles collapse, forming a mind-blowing shock wave that can kill or stun the poor crustacean that was unable to escape!

I have just been getting started editing videos using iMovie, so please excuse the amateur quality!

 

Want more? Here is a cool video by Nat Geo on the Mantis Shrimp.

 

2015 ARC Europe

Now that the 2014-2015 cruising season is ending, the chances of a hurricane forming in the South Atlantic are increasing. It’s time for the sailboat cruisers to head to safer waters. Most of them head north to the USA or travel across the north Atlantic towards Europe. Many of them head for the dreamy cruising waters of the Mediterranean. Who can blame them?
ARC Europe Route

 

As I posted last year when the sailboats were leaving Europe, the World Cruising Club organized them and provided safety information in an event known as the ARC, or Atlantic Rally for Cruisers.

For the route leaving the Caribbean and the east coast of the USA, it’s called the ARC Europe.

As the World Cruising Club states:

ARC Europe is the west-to-east Atlantic rally, sailing from the Caribbean or North America to Europe.  Starting from Nanny Cay Marina on Tortola British Virgin Islands or Ocean Marine Yacht Centre in Portsmouth Virginia, the two fleets rendezvous in St George’s, Bermuda before crossing the Atlantic to the Azores.

After cruising the Azorean archipelago, boats sail to Marina de Lagos in southern Portugal, or sail independently to northern Europe.

In every port there will be social activities, plus tours ashore in the Azores.

Here is the schedule:

2015 ARC Europe schedule

As you can see, they start tomorrow. I wish them all the best of luck and perhaps I will post again about specific boats in the rally.

Lindsay and I are still learning about preferred routes and seasons. We have a pretty good idea about where to be for the best sailing, but having the World Cruising Club organize the whole thing is much preferred for our first time across. We intend to use this route next year.

Sub-Tropical Storm Ana

Remember I said it’s a bad year for Florida and the Bahamas? Warmer than normal sea surface temperatures are brewing storms already, and it’s not hurricane season yet.

The National Hurricane Center has upgraded Invest 90L to Sub Tropical Storm Ana as of 11 pm EDT/10 pm CDT yesterday.  Ana is going to be a very slow moving storm over the next few days and will bring upwards of 2 to 4 inches of rainfall, gusty winds of up to 50 mph, rough surf, beach erosion and coastal flooding right through this weekend.

Full data on Sub Tropical Storm Ana can be found at http://crownweather.com/index.php/active-storms/ana/ .

Sub-Tropical Storm Ana

The complete list of names for the 2015 hurricane season are as follows:

Ana
Bill
Claudette
Danny
Erika
Fred
Grace
Henri
Ida
Joaquin
Kate
Larry
Mindy
Nicholas
Odette
Peter
Rose
Sam
Teresa
Victor
Wanda

Are you named this year?

Thankfully, for Lindsay and I, the Western Caribbean is not expecting a major storm season, so our house and business are in a good position this year.