Monthly Archives: April 2010

>Pandora back in the water, finally. Let the sailing begin.

>Pandora launched as planned on Friday morning in Annapolis.  After all of the preparation it always amazes me how quickly it all happened and then we are floating.  With months of preparation and organization when it comes time to launch.  The guys show up with the lift, rig up the straps and off they go.  Aside from my sanding and painting the underside of the keel, the whole project couldn’t have taken more than 15 minutes from when they showed up until Pandora was afloat.

That’s a big lift but the mast is even higher.  At just a shade under 65′ tall, Pandora’s mast will just fit under the bridges on the Intercoastal Waterway to Florida which has a 65′ controlling height on the bridges.

Amazing how big she looks in the slings. Actually, the closer to land she gets the bigger she seems.  Get her off shore in nasty conditions and she seems down right diminutive.

Just about ready to drop in.

After hitting the water, we moved to the other side of the lift dock to begin finishing up on the last minute details.   How serene it all looks.

It would seem that after the countless hours of work that getting the boat ready entails, that we’d be ready to go once she splashed.   No, no, no…

Let me list the ways, the many, many ways.

The chart plotter and all of it’s interconnected wind direction and speed, boat speed, water temperature, auto pilot, GPS, radar, repeaters are all interconnected and ALL DIDN’T WORK!!! Blank screens, mindless blinking boxes, NOTHING WORKED.  Did I say that NOTHING WORKED?  I made a quick call to my friendly electronics guy and two hours later we were back in business.  Fortunately, when I called he picked up immediately (you have to love those cell phones) and within 10 minutes he was aboard.   I was sure that he was going to say “I’ll be able to come by next Tuesday” but he didn’t.  He waved his magic wand (after tearing apart a slew of interior cabinetry) unplugging all sorts of things, plugging them in again and putting them back together again.  After that, everything magically worked again.  Pretty unsettling that it can all be that easy/hard but Pandora was happy again. 

Meanwhile, the sail maker, no, make that two sail makers, were aboard taking measurements for a new storm jib (more about that in my next post).  I had hoped to buy a used one but no such luck.   Getting the fit just right is a trick with the new inner forestay wasn’t in the cards with a used one so I caved and ordered a new one.  Brenda was thrilled, as you can imagine. Another “boat dollar” later it’s on order.

To complete the moment, the rigger was back on board for a rig tune the new rig and a bit later his assistant was back to finish up on a few last minute details.  It’s amazing how there’s always “one more thing” to do, and to charge for on a boat.   The good news is that the rigger walked me through all of the details of tuning the rig so now I understand how to do it myself.  Which is good as it will need adjusting again after the new standing rigging is used and stretches a bit as is worked into shape.

My good friend Chris Blossom, the marine artist, loves to tease me about Pandora, with all of her complexities and constant repairs.  His boat, a 30 year old Luders 33, fitted out for offshore sailing as well, is much less dependent on electronics and his bills are much, much less as well.  It’ fully a fully capable boat but it’s a lot less complex.  There’s something to be said about low tech.  However, I do love all of those things that go beep.

Meanwhile I spent over an hour on the phone with the HP printer guy in India trying to get my new on board printer to work with my laptop.  This is critical for business as we will be splitting our time between home and Pandora this season.  On the boat I now have all of the technology that I need to stay connected, just like a “real office”.

Along with everything else that was done to the boat over the winter, we put a flat screen TV on board last year.  However, it was never connected to an antenna and to date have only used it for watching movies.  Now that we have this slick new mast head TV antenna (I don’t even want to think about what that cost to watch “free” TV) we have HD TV aboard Pandora.  The real trick will be to see if our solar panels will be able to keep up with the power demands of a TV, refrigeration, printer/scanner, navigation computer, Brenda’s laptop, my laptop, multiple instruments, microwave, water pumps, GPS, plotter, radar, cell phone chargers, lighting and all of those shiny electronics that go beep (when they work) that keep Pandora happy.  Yikes, it better be a sunny summer on the water as solar panels don’t put out much when it’s cloudy.  Perhaps it’s time to get a wind generator.  More on that later.

Until mid June Pandora’s home port will be Sprig’s pond near Annapolis in a slip.  Here’s  a shot of Pandora (across the dock, stern too) near Lumen, another SAGA 43.  Lumen is just visiting as her owner Peter recently arrived from Florida where he had her for the winter.  Peter keeps Lumen in Maine and will be back in a few weeks to continue his trip back home.

For now, Pandora and Lumen are docked together.  Not exactly a flock of SAGAs but more than are usually on the same doc.

>Jessica Watson may be close, but the adventure continues.

>Now that Jessica is back in Australian waters it’s easy to assume that the worst is behind her.  Not so.  For the last few days she has been in some very unsettled weather and yesterday she was caught in a string of strong thunder cells, one of which laid her flat and tore her mainsail in two places.  Good thing that she has a spare so she can swap the sail out and stitch up the mess. 

It’s amazing that, after so many miles, she has some of the more “interesting” weather of her trip.  I’ll bet that she is ready for a bit of peace and quiet in her life.  Thursday’s blog entry is worth reading and if you haven’t been following her regularly, check out some of the recent posts. 

Meanwhile, Abby Sunderland is making her way around alone from California and passed Cape Horn last week.  Once Jess is back home at least I will still be able to read about Abby’s exploits as she has a long way to go to get home.   Don’t forget to check out Abby’s blog as she does post about every other day or so.

And, of course, there’s Dilip Donde, of the Indian Navy who’s been making his way around and last week made his departure from the last land fall of his trip, leaving Cape Town South Africa to continue his voyage alone back to India.  Not far to go but he continues to run into “interesting” weather.  Unfortunately, Dilip doesn’t post often, with only about one installment per week.  His posts are also a bit more like “the facts and nothing but the facts”, with less personal information.   Perhaps it’s an age or cultural thing.  Not many middle age guys spill their guts online.  Wait, is that true?  Hmm…  Or, perhaps it’s a generation thing with the two young sailors being so Web oriented that they feel more connected by posting regularly.  It’s probably a desire to keep their many sponsors happy. Perhaps it’s both. 

>Jessica Watson in Austrailian Waters and Pandora still on the hard

>While I much rather be writing about sailing or working on Pandora, I can always fall back on writing about Jessica Watson who’s just recently made it back to Australian waters.  It’s quite remarkable that Jess has made it just about the entire way around the world and now has made it back to her home waters.  She still has a lot of miles to go but much of her journey is now behind her.

While it’s hard to find any sort of mainstream media covering sailing in the US, Jess has been the subject of much popular broadcasting in Australia since leaving home back in October.   I noticed today that a local TV program, Thursday Night Live, has done yet another segment about her voyage.  In this particular segment, it’s fun to hear the interplay between Jess and the interviewer (in particular the women asking the questions) to see how she (the interviewer) is clearly amused and perhaps repulsed by the idea of going so long without a shower. This disbelief combined with “what could you possibly do to entertain yourself for all of this time” is a clear undercurrent of the discussion.  Take a look at this video and think about the typical 16 year old going 9 months without a shower.  That in itself is remarkable and to some a feat nearly equal to someone so young sailing alone around the world.   The shower thing is impressive enough. You be the judge.

As for Pandora, she splashes next Friday and I can’t wait. Happily, we have our first rendezvous of the season planned with another SAGA 43 the very next day and that will be great fun. With so many chores and projects behind us, it’s hard to imagine that launch time is nearly here.

Lately, I have been very focused on our Summer itinerary including crew for the long runs up the coast and making lists of what I need to have on board. All this plus a long list of weekend adventures including special outings with my grown boys, Chris and Rob with their friends.  Awesome!

Here’s to the best sailing season yet and to Jess’s homecoming. Both will be great, I am sure.

>Want to win the Jules Verne trophy?

>The fictional character Phileas Fogg in the novel Around the world in 80 days by Jules Verne, first published in 1873, circumnavigated the world on a combination of rail and steam ship on a wager of   £20,000 set by his friends at his social club.  This feat today and it’s current real life record holders is memorialized by the “Jules Verne Trophy” that resides in Paris.    The current record holder did the trip in a trimaran very recently early in 2010 in just under 48 days, 8 hours.  This boat, also from France hopes to do the trip in 40 days.  The attempt will be made in 2012 in a boat capable of a top speed of 50kts.  It’s hard to imagine the boat going that fast much less holding together for the whole trip.  

This video is a bit long, and is in French. However, it’s got some amazing footage of the boat underway. It’s the current Jules Verne record holder from 2006.  Well, I guess that the true feat is to make it around in once piece and a bit faster than the other guy.   Unlike the rest of us, these guys head into bad weather so that they can get a bit faster time.

Even better than the boats that sail for the trophy, is the sculpture itself by American artist Tom Shannon, known for his remarkable pieces, some of which float in the air on a magnetic field or suspended by wires. Check out his site for some amazing photos of his work.

The sculpture that he created to serve as the perpetual Jules Verne trophy and the holders of the trophy through the years are described in Wickepedia.  The following is an excerpt from the description.
“The “Trophy Jules Verne”, placed under the high patronage of the French Culture Ministry, was the subject of a public order of the visual arts delegation with the American artist Thomas Shannon.
The work is a floating hull on a magnetic field moored by a cable as an anchor retains a ship. All dimensions have rigorous symbolic meaning. In proportions, the midship beam of the hull correspond to the diameter of the Earth. The ray of each end is proportional to that of the moon. And the radius of the curvature of the frames is that of the sun. The competitors of the Trophy Jules Verne race around the Earth against time, with only the sun and the moon as companions and time keepers.
The sculpture is placed on a cast aluminum base, on which the names of the sailors having won the Trophy are engraved. The French National Navy museum in Paris hosts and maintains the Trophy. Each of winners received a miniature counterpart of this Trophy, magnetized like the original one.

During an official ceremony, the precedent holder gives the Trophy to the victorious crew who receives the hull and must moor it in the magnetic field.”

A remarkable trophy for a remarkable voyage.  While I will have my own voyages I don’t think that I lust after the excitement that these guys seek.