Friday, September 15, 2017

Hurricane Relief Efforts

I have been working hard for the past few days to week or so to help the people of the Caribbean get the help they need after Hurricane Irma. But putting together those able to assist with those interested in donating and ensuring that the organizations are reputable, I hope to be able to make a small difference. If you are looking for information or ways you can help, please visit the  Ocean Cruising Club  (OCC) website.

So many of the lovely places we visited on our Caribbean cruise in 2009-2010 are devastated. Please do what you can to help. Thanks.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

The wrath of Hurricane Irma

My heart goes out to the people in the path of Irma's wrath. Little Barbuda with its 1600 gentle people and miles of gorgeous white sands framed in impossible blues fills my mind with glorious memories of a serene visit at anchor several years back. Today, after Irma's eye passed directly over Barbuda, there is only devastation. If I were able, I would sail over and make fresh water for the people and help them rebuild in any way I could. Instead, I will do my best to share information about their plight and encourage others to pitch in any way they can. Perhaps that's all many of us can do. 

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Fireworks in Galicia, Spain

We have just returned from Spain and I will be writing about our experience there Ria by Ria, starting with Ria de Corcubion near Finisterre and ending with Baiona.

August is the month when most Galicians go off on holiday. Everywhere we went in August, there were festivals in villages with carnival rides, games, music concerts, arts & crafts, food, and fireworks. The fireworks started at 9 am to announce the beginning of the festival and get people to come to the village. At noon they would shoot them off again to announce the day's opening of the festival. At night, they would shoot them off in earnest.  A different village would be involved every day. Some of the fistas were in honour of the Virgin Mary, some celebrated sardines, others music. There were no shortages of themes to celebrate.

In the meantime, while I'm compiling sense of my notes, here's a little video (4.5 minutes) of fireworks in Cee as seen from our boat anchored in Corcubion. Delightful.

Here's a sampling of Galician music

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Sailing the Rias Baixas in Galicia Spain

Galician Celtic musicians

Over the past month, we sailed down from Ireland along the wild west coast, then crossed to Spain via the Bay of Biscay to sail the Rias of Galicia with 60 boats from the Irish Cruising Club. To say that it has been an absolute delight would be an understatement. I will tell each of the stories individually, but this is the introductory opening. 

We started in the Ria de Muros where we all gradually converged on the fabulous facility at the Real Club de Portosin and marina. From Portosin we had the chance to visit Noia and Santiago de Compostella by bus. Amazing. Then we sailed into the Ria Arousa where we stayed in Caraminal and visited a fabulous monastery on the way to one of largest Spanish vineyards. Next we put into the marina at Cambarro and visited the Naval College. We had plenty of time in between events and organized an Ocean Cruising Club raft-up en route to Baiona. We finished off the cruise with a magnificent cocktail party at the yacht club and dinner at the Parador in Baiona or Bayona. 

It's been a magnificent experience. We are now on our own for a month, left to explore the Rias at length and leisure. Things have changed since we were here last in 2009. Many more facilities available to cruising sailors. And the weather is fine, too. More to come!

The fabulous fort above the Monte Real Club de Yates Baiona

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Day of departure

I'm a fan of moving aboard several days before departure. You find out what you forgot to bring, you find out what you forgot to remove, and you find out what's not working so you can fix it.

This time, we had multiple SNAFU syndrome. Alex went aboard to bring a load of stuff while I stayed behind packing more stuff. He was to run the generator and chill the fridge freezer. Problem #1, the fridge didn't cool. Problem #2, the exhaust pipe was leaking into the boat. Problem #3, the generator was charging too high and kept creeping up and spiking. Our hearts sank. It didn't help that it was a beautiful day.

He tried to find the spare pump but couldn't. He tried to fix the leaky exhaust and was partially successful. But the generator was no good. So Alex got on the phone and called chandleries to source the pump. Called Moonies to get aluminium tape for the exhaust. Called Westerbeke, thankfully in the US and still open on a long 4th of July holiday weekend, and received instructions bout how to turn down the engine speed.

Meanwhile, I called Sam our house sitter to call off our handoff, and went work in the garage searching for a spare refrigeration pump. Not only did I find the spare pump, there were two along with a treasure trove of spare parts. Alex forgot that he had taken everything off the boat several years ago when we had repairs done. I spent the rest of the day sorting through boxes of stuff, cleaning them up, and repacking them to take to the boat. We hadn't taken any really long trips since then when we would be away from marinas and chandleries. So we forgot about the spares. Now we are back in business. Because now when something breaks, we can repair it, replace it, or do without it. My mantra!

So with new pump, aluminium tape, and generator fixed (by the way, it was the wiring done by the electrician in the yard that was screwed up), we are ready to rock and roll. Alex is the real MacGyver.

Bon voyage!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Emirates Team New Zealand taking the America's Cup down under

Foils, wings, and pedal power led the Kiwis to a massive 8-1 victory over the billionaires of Oracle Team USA. Burling, at 26 the youngest helmsman in the AC, made the transition from junior AC in 2013. So the oldest trophy in sport goes to the youngest skipper. Once again, innovation trumped unlimited financing. But was this sailing?  One might argue not. And how was it a contest of nations when in the last race there was no true American aboard the Oracle Team US entry?

The Italians have already announced their bid and NZ accepted their challenge for the next race. And they are questioning the boat design for the next series already. Back to monohulls?  Maybe not, but they will surely need boats that can handle a bit more wind down under. And what about a nationality clause?  With all the Aussies and Kiwis serving on other teams, Emirates Team NZ could certainly benefit from such a change and have the opportunity to rewrite the rules, which I believe the Italians would support.

We shall soon see. Overall, the entire event was a great success. In the calm Bermudan waters, you had the beauty of the J Class fleet, the vigor of the youth AC challenge, and the spectacle of foiling multihulls. Sailing is once again capturing the imagination of the world. Long may it continue.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The most beautiful boats ever built

The J Class hosts arguably the most beautiful yacht design ever. That's why they are still being built. And this year, for the first time ever, 8 of the 9 assembled in Bermuda and 7 were expected to race during the America's Cup challenge. Three of the yachts are the original surviving yachts of 10 built.

© Martinez StudioWhen they approached the start for the first time. Kenny Read was at the helm of Hanuman, one of the newer vintage builds. In this historic America's Cup J Class Regatta in Bermuda, three different crews won races on the opening day. Just one point separated the top two boats, Hanuman and Ranger on seven apiece, with Lionheart poised for three way final day showdown on eight.

The yachts are:
JK3: Shamrock V
JK7: Velsheda
JK4: Endeavour
J5:    Ranger
JK6: Hanuman
JH1: Lionheart
JH2: Rainbow
J8:    Topaz
JS1:  Svea
JH3: Yankee
J9:    J9

In second place in a dramatic, high stakes final race laden with tension off Saint George's island, the Lionheart crew stuck to their goals in the shifty breeze to climb back into contention at the last turn. When Hanuman were dramatically given a penalty for a rules infringement on the approach to the last buoy, the Lionheart crew capitalized, having caught the scent of the overall win that they had worked so hard for over the last three years. With the regatta title in their grasp they passed the leader Topaz down the last leg. Then, with Hanuman astern and Velsheda winning the series' fifth and final race, Lionheart extended their margin to three winning points.
The crew of  Lionheart clinched their trophy for winning the first ever America's Cup J Class Regatta. 'This is the event we have been working towards for two years,' said the owner before going on to pay tribute to how welcoming the Bermudans have been. Velsheda's second win of the regatta, 2, 1 for the day, proved critical, earning them the number 2 position tie break from Hanuman. Velsheda will be 85 years old next year, so this is no small feat. We look forward to more events like this in the future. 

Final results after five races, no discard:
1. Lionheart 11pts
2. Velsheda 14pts
3. Hanuman 14pts
4. Ranger 18pts
5. Topaz 21pts
6. Shamrock V 30pts
7. Svea 36pts