Monthly Archives: September 2014

Weather window? Hatteras, here we come. Maybe not.

It’s Monday morning and the sun is just peaking up over the eastern horizon as we make our way into Hampton Rhodes after an overnight from the Rhode River near Annapolis.  The sky is overcast but quite dramatic.  I tried to time the shot when the lighthouse was blinking.  No luck…The weather was unremarkable for our overnight run, with virtually no wind.  All we got was a light shifting 5kts from a variety of directions.  No wind.  Not so good.  Glass like conditions.   However,  really good for an easy run under power.

I certainly prefer to sail over motoring, but it’s nice to just turn on the motor and point toward where we need to go.  That’s particularly appealing when you are in busy shipping channels such as in Chesapeake Bay, which we were, that’s for sure.

As we headed down the bay, beginning mid afternoon yesterday, we were constantly being passed by ships come up and down the bay, some as large as nearly 1,000’.  It’s pretty impressive to see a cruise ship steam by, lit up like a city building.  No wait, these monsters are city buildings, or at least a large town, but one that floats.

In spite of all the traffic, the night was pretty uneventful (that’s good) with a lot of time spent keeping track of ships on AIS, the “automatic identification system” that all ships have on board and we monitor aboard Pandora.  This system transmits their speed and direction and that information is interpreted by my chart plotter to give me a display of CPA “closest point of approach” and other information regarding each ship that is quite useful.

In particular, the name of the ship is noted which makes it easy to call them by name.  In the past, when I called a ship, noting their general location only, I didn’t usually get a response.  Now, knowing where they are and how close they will be to me, perhaps in 20 minutes, takes a lot of the anxiety out of the picture.  It’s great to be able to talk to them on the radio and get an immediate answer and advice as to how to stay out of harm’s way.  That’s really great, calming actually. .

In the past, prior to AIS, you had to look at the lights and try and interpret what they were going to do and scramble out of the way, whatever I was able to determine was the way they were going.  At night, this was pretty difficult.  Much better now, that’s for sure.

Much of last night was pretty mundane but the highlight for me was when I spied a tug on AIS that was approaching from the south.  The name displayed was something like “Tug Jim” or other such mundane name.  However, the AIS system also tells you where they are going, such as Baltimore, for example.  In this case, the signal designated their destination as “The Hell if I know”.    I wonder what the US Coast Guard would think of that.  Hmm…  I guess “Jim” has a sense of humor.

Anyway, we are now tied up at a dock at the Hampton Yacht Club and are enjoying a day of rest while we wait for the weather off of Cape Hatteras to clear up, if perhaps only briefly.   I spoke to Chris Parker yesterday and again today and his advice is to time our arrival at Hatteras for around dawn on Wednesday.  That suggests a departure from here early on Tuesday morning.

NO WAIT…  Here’s another idea.  With the short weather window to get around Hatteras and all the anxiety that goes with that, let’s just bag it and go through the Dismal Swamp Canal.  I like that idea…

Ok, so, after much debate (in my mind anyway), as I finish this post, we are motoring down to Norfolk where we will go out to dinner and a movie and then leave in the morning to head INSIDE, the easy way, to Beaufort and then a combination of outside and the ICW to GA.  There are also crew considerations in all of this and one of my guys has to leave prior to GA so going inside this way makes a lot of sense.  Besides, the weather window we need to make the run to GA may very well close before we get there and, well, let’s just say that I got a headache thinking of all the possibilities and just decided to bag the whole thing and go inside.

And, to top it all, this is supposed to be fun and I just love the run from Newport News to Beaufort and the Dismal Swamp Canal.

Yes, that’s what we are going to do.  And, that route will make for some fun posts.

Stay tuned.

Heading to GA this week, I’m pretty sure…

It’s Sunday morning early and Pandora is at Camp Letts near Annapolis MD.  For the last two days I have been attending the SSCA Gam here and enjoying time with some 350 other cruisers for a meeting with seminars and speakers on all sorts of topics.  Actually, it’s amazing just how many folks I recognize in the group.  

This gam, upon which the one we modeled our Essex June event, is one of several that the Seven Seas Cruising Association, SSCA, does throughout the year.

The event is located at Camp Letts, a Boy Scout camp just south of Annapolis on the Rhode River.   As the event has grown over the years, to it’s present size, with some 300-400 attendees, they have outgrown most locations that might house them and certainly the ones that they can afford, given the low cost of the events that they try to put on to attract cruisers.  The location is quite a beautiful setting with great views of the harbor from 180 degrees.

The speakers were quite good with talks by Chris Parker, the weather router that we use, as well as talks about proper rigging of a boat for offshore passages, how to set up a boat to “live off the grid”, safety and where to go when you cruise.   All and all, a great group of speakers.

It was good to see Chris Parker in person again as I speak with him on the radio off and on and get his updates on the weather nearly every day.   I also wanted to remind him of the plans we have in Essex as he has agreed to speak at our meeting.  He’s a very good speaker and teacher.

I am particularly interested in what Chris has to say about the weather coming up this week as I will be making my way down the coast toward St Mary’s GA where she will be hauled till Brenda and I join her in early January.

As the warm weather of summer battles it out with the colder weather of winter, the big question is if there will be the northerly winds that we need to head south.  I really have no interest in banging my head against unfavorable winds, and am willing to wait for winds that will get us there quickly and comfortably.

Based on his preliminary assessment yesterday at the meeting, admittedly, without his computer models, he thinks that we will be able to get a window to head out around Cape Hatteras, mid-week to make out way toward GA.   This suggests that we should make our way down the bay toward Hampton VA  at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay after the meeting today or first thing in the morning and wait a few days for the favorable winds to come through.

One thing that looks certain is that there is going to be a band of squally, nasty, weather in the waters off of Hatteras Tuesday and going out into the middle of that would not be a good idea.

At this point, the question will be if we should wait in Hampton and go out and around Hatteras, or if we should go in at Hampton,  make our way down the ICW, Intra Coastal Waterway, inside to Beaufort while the adverse conditions off of Hatteras work themselves out.   As that inshore route is protected,  we can do it even if the weather isn’t so great.  Outside, in the ocean, the conditions are exposed and it would not be a good idea to head out until things settle down.   The problem with the inside route is that we can only move during daylight hours, making the trip from Hampton to Beaufort a three to four day trip verses a much shorter offshore run as we can continue moving 24/7.

Such are the questions that I have to answer to be sure that we can make a good and safe run to GA from here, a run of about 600 miles and to get there in decent time.  My crew, Jim and Ken, whom have sailed with in the past, won’t be too keen on sailing aboard Pandora in the future if we have a nasty, unpleasant run.

To get the latest forecast, I will call Chris today on the phone and talk to him to get the forecast as he does not broadcast on Sunday.

Fingers crossed that things will play out as hoped and we will be on our way today or Monday.

Perhaps I’ll close with a nice shot of today’s sunrise to prove that it was pretty early when I wrote this.  What a peaceful spot to write.Oh yeah, I should also use the photo that Brenda took of me waiting for the train looking like a Sherpa.   Well at least like a serious “mini sherpa” ready to climb a large mountain.  You know, you can never have enough lines aboard.   I ended up replacing my main sheet and jib sheet with two of these. I was hoping that I looked mean enough to raise the conductors suspicion.  Alas, no such luck.  Well at least, if the train was to get stuck on a bridge I could have used them ro repel down to safety.  Yeah, right…  As always, I’ll be posting Pandora’s position on “where’s Pandora” as we wake our way down the coast over the next week.   I am optimistic that things will go well. 

And now, time for a brief hiatus. Home for a bit…

It’s Sunday afternoon and I am aboard an Amtrak train headed from BWI to Old Saybrook and home. Today has been, to borrow a phrase, a “train, boat and automobiles” sort of day.  Thanks Jim for giving us a ride to the train.  A full service operation Jim is running for us.

Pandora’s in a slip in Annapolis at, my crew, Jim’s condo.  How convenient it is that he recently sold his boat.  Keep Pandora in a free slip and head home for a few days?  Not a tough decision.

Anyway, I had fully expected to just hang around in Annapolis for the week till the SSCA cruiser’s gam began on Thursday night, but when Jim offered the use of his slip, I thought it would be fun to head home and see Brenda.  She left a week ago for a weaving conference so the idea of waiting a few more weeks to see her after Pandora’s in GA didn’t sit well with me.

Happily, I am now on my way home.  ‘That’s good.

Our run from Essex to Annapolis was pretty much perfect. We sailed the entire way from Montauk all the way to Cape May and then motored the rest of the way to Annapolis.  It’s hard to wish for more.

The wind was behind us for the whole offshore run and blowing plenty hard to keep us moving well.  Pandora did well and kept her speed over 7kts with only a single reef in the main and no head sail.  This translated into 170 miles in 24 hours.  Pretty impressive.

The waves were pretty big and I am always amazed at how fast they build when there is any sort of wind blowing. However, with the waves from behind us, they didn’t feel anywhere as large as they looked.    They were pretty steep for a while and as they crested and rolled under our stern, I was surprised to see a few of them hit the transom and wash under the transom door and into the cockpit.  It’s a good way to rinse the crumbs out after all.

Amazingly, as we approached the entrance to the Delaware river in the wee hours of Saturday, the wind clocked to the east which made it easy for us to begin our run up the river.  As the wind was opposing the ebbing tide, the seas were a bit lumpy but they quickly smoothed out as we headed up toward to the canal.  

After an ocean transit, it was wonderful to enjoy a quiet motor ride up the bay.  I had not gotten much sleep on the run down but was happy to catch some sleep as Roger steered up the river.

The canal is so smooth and comfortable, a welcome change from the bumpy ocean.We stopped for the night in Chesapeake City, a favorite of mine.  It’s a lot of fun to go ashore for dinner after a few days aboard.  Roger, Jim and I had a nice dinner out.  I have to tell you that it was a hopping town with loads folks on small boats coming and going for drinks at the local Tiki bar on shore.  We stopped to take a look and decided that a drink aboard Pandora would be more our speed.  I wonder how safe it is when they head out after drinking to blast down the bay on their “muscle boats” that can go 50MPH.   Can you say “legal limit”.  I don’t think that there are many sobriety stops on the water. 

Speaking of “sobriety”, I made up a few delicious rum punches for Pandora’s crew that we enjoyed very much.  I even got a shot of the sun setting on my own punch.  Don’t the colors work well together?  I had to take the shot quickly before my ice melted.  Such problems I endured. I guess that this qualifies as a “rum selfie” if there is such a thing.After a good night sleep, and some of Pandora’s famous fresh biscuits, we made our way down to Annapolis.  Mission accomplished.  Pandora’s ready for the gam.  Then, on to Georgia where she will be hauled for a rest while Brenda and I do some traveling and enjoy the holidays with family.  We’ll rejoin her in GA in early January. 

An added bonus of coming back to CT for a few days is that I can visit my mother Shirley who’s turning 85 this week.  Happy Birthday Mom!!!  See you soon.

Aren’t I a good son?  I won’t talk about the 4 months that I’ll abandon her this winter while Brenda and I are south on Pandora while she’s up in the frigid north.  Hmm…  

Home soon to see Brenda again.  Did I say that it’s been a week since I have see her?  Such are the busy lives of the retired.


Off soundings and on our way to a 170 mile day

It’s Friday afternoon and we have been underway for about 21 hours since leaving Essex.   The wind is on our stern and blowing about 20kts.  Pandora is tooling along at between 7-8 kts and doing very well under the control of the autopilot.

Since leaving Essex yesterday we have covered 150 miles and are currently about 20 miles off of Barnegat Inlet in central New Jersey.  With about 80 miles between us and the mouth of the Delaware River, off of Cape May, we are making great time.  If the wind keeps up for the next few hours we will have put in a 170 mile day.  Not to shabby, and, particularly impressive given the fact that we motored down the river, out the race and nearly all the way to Montauk against a flood tide.  On top of that, we also had a headwind until about an hour after rounding Montauk around Midnight.  I am pretty impressed to have made it 150 miles at an average speed of just over 7kts.  Not so shabby.

The wind has moderated somewhat but we are still making a good 7kts on deep broad reach with a single reefed main.  We had the jib out but it was banging around in the lee of the main, making a racket and not doing much. 

As it was pretty windless when we left, the seas were quite flat.  However, by this morning with over 20kts of wind, things got pretty lumpy.  Happily, it has moderated somewhat but there is still a good sea running and enough wind to keep us moving along at a good clip.

We will likely make the turn up the Delaware River in the wee hours of Saturday, probably a few hours prior to the flood turning the tide upstream.  However, that will work out well as we will carry the full food up much of the time and then through the C&D canal as we make our way toward the upper Chesapeake.  I am hopeful that my crew, Roger and Jim, both great to have on board, BTW, will be happy to stop for Saturday night as I do enjoy staying in Chesapeake City on the western end of the canal.  

After a good night sleep, on to Annapolis.

I am afraid that there’s not too much to report that’s very exciting except lots of grey waves.  We did hear on the radio last evening that someone had suffered a heart attack on a fishing boa, way off shore.  And it sounded to us, based on the back and forth with the US Coastguard, that he didn’t make it.  Suffering a catastrophic event when you are miles from shore is certainly not a good thing.

Anyway, enough morbid stuff.   Better to think about what fun it will be to be back in Annapolis.  I talked to my son Rob last evening while we were still in cell range, and he’s going to stop and have dinner with me and probably spend the night on board, on Wednesday.

Well, here’s to a continued speedy voyage to Annapolis. I do so hope that the run from Annapolis to GA is as good.

Today is “A” day. On to “A”nnapolis. Really…

It’s Thursday morning and we are FINALLY going to leave for our run to Annapolis.  Our plan will be to head out around Montauk, offshore and down to the Delaware River at Cape May and through the C&D canal and down the northern Chesapeake to Annapolis, a run that should get us there by Sunday.  I will be posting our position every four hours following our departure so you can track us by clicking here or going to the “where’s Pandora” button on this site.

It’s been crazy for the last few weeks, lining up crew, picking dates and changing them again and again.  I am not sure how many crew I had “lined up” but with all the changes as to when we were leaving, I think I “confirmed” around a half dozen.  Alas, plans change for them as does the weather.

In the fall it seems that the winds are more changeable than in the spring as winter winds and summer breezes duke it out.  In the end, it’s the northerlies that win over, well at least till spring when the prevailing south-westerlies take over again.

Well, the weather systems have been battling it out for weeks now with a few days of good northerlies to take us down the coast followed by a quick change to unfavorable southerlies.   Believe me, it’s a lot more fun to go with the flow (wind that is), than against it.

Happily, it looks like today is finally going to be the day to head out.  Even as I write this the winds are still from the south west but they are expected to change, and I hope they do by this evening, to favorable northerlies.   And then that won’t last for long as it’s supposed to go southeast by Saturday.  I would expect that we will be in Annapolis by Sunday so that’s good.   Who knows, perhaps we’ll get lucky and the wind will shift to the south as we turn the corner at Cape May and head north up the Delaware River.  Stranger things have happened.

My crew, Jim (from Annapolis) and Roger (fellow SAGA 43 owner from NYC), both experienced offshore sailors, will be arriving early afternoon and then we’ll run up to the boat and cast off.

I’ve spent days, no make that weeks,  getting Pandora provisioned and ready for the run to Annapolis.  After the SSCA Gam next weekend, I’ll have new crew for the run to ST Mary’s GA in early October.  Making sure that everything we will need to make the run south as well as what Brenda and I will want to have on board for the winter in FL and the Keys needed to be sorted out.

Well, I have to dash to run to the dump and boat as well as get back and cut the lawn (I won’t be home for several weeks and the lawn continues to grow, you know) before running a few errands and picking up the guys.

Meanwhile, Pandora’s at the dock waiting patiently. Next stop. Annapolis.  I am looking forward to spending some time touring around town.  There are plenty of wonderful sights to behold. Well, wish us luck and keep those cards and letters coming.  Well, at least leave a comment so I know that there is someone out there.

Hello, hello are you there?

I know I’m going to Annapolis but not sure when.

Well, it’s Wednesday morning and I just finished talking to Chris Parker, the weather router, about my upcoming trip to Annapolis.  I’d like to be there by next Thursday in time for the SSCA Gam but the weather forecast has been changing daily for the last week.  At one point it looked like we’d be able to leave this coming Monday with good winds to get us there in time, my first choice.  Now, it looks like that’s not in the cards and that I’ll have to leave tomorrow Thursday evening to make the run.  Yes, there might be a window on Monday but that’s nearly a week away and if the front moving east changes it’s tune, I might be stuck and unable to make the run to get there in time.

Unfortunately, Brenda’s away this week at a tapestry weaving workshop in Rockport, MA and I had hoped to see her for a few days prior to my departure as I’ll be heading to GA after the Gam and that will keep me away from her for too long.  Alas, nothing is simple.

Complicating things further, nailing down crew, with their own shifting commitments has been tough and each time the weather changes, so does crew.  Sadly, this is the nature of using crew and it’s even more complicated in the fall as I need winds from the north, which only come through when there is a front, which never seems to last long enough or is too strong to make for a decent window.  Oh, the trials of being a “snow bird”.   Feel sorry for me, if you can.

The good news is that Pandora is finally ready and almost totally provisioned for the run, whenever we leave.   More on that later today when I make my calls to crew.  Hopefully, I won’t be reduced to begging.

Yesterday I did a lot of running around to get the final details of my new anchor installation in order.  I have had a Bruce anchor, the one that came with Pandora, for years and after two winters in the Bahamas and the frustrations of trying to anchor with the Bruce,  I decided to replace it with one of the “modern” types.  The fact that I bent the shaft on the Bruce last winter did provide an “incentive” to finally deal with the anchoring problem.   It’s amazing how much it bent, actually.  At the time I wrote about what happened in this post.Bruce anchors were popular for many years but they, like all anchors, have limitations.  In the Bahamas, with lots of firm bottoms and grassy areas, the Bruce has a particularly tough time digging in.  My friend Dick has an amusing saying for boats that drag their anchor on a windy night, “if it’s loose, it must be a Bruce”. Well put Dick. 

So, time for a new anchor.  After much review (wading through it actually) of info on the Internet I had narrowed down to two types, a Spade or Rocna, neither of which would fit on the bow roller that Pandora currently has.   As I have spoken to quite a few folks about their anchors (there’s plenty of opinion about anchors out there) the Rocna seems to be an excellent choice and the folks that have them seem to love them.  I understand that they are particularly good in weed, perhaps the toughest bottom type to deal with.   The problem with testing anchors is that there are many different bottom conditions that can effect anchoring efficiency and it’s hard to cover them all in a single test.  Having said that, Bill Springer’s blog had a review of a very well thought out anchor test that he and others, had conducted. The results do show that the Rocna performs very well.  So, I bought one.

That’s the good news.  The bad news is that it didn’t fit Pandora’s roller.  What to do…

I have been thinking about a possible modification of the roller for sometime and here’s what I settled on.  I think it’s pretty neat.   The idea is to have an attachment that will hinge up and support the anchor when it’s needs to be secured and yet drop will down to deploy when I am anchored.

The problem is that the Rocna anchor just wouldn’t go far up into the roller as the shank of the would not fit.  Here’s what It looks like when it “won’t fit”.  Not too elegant.So, first, I had a local machine shop drill some holes in some bar stock so I could try a number of configurations.    When I pulled it into position, it seemed to work just fine. Then I made a cardboard template for the machinist so he’d know what I wanted.  That took a few hours of head scratching to get it just right.   Then I went back the next day and measured all over again.   The machinist was to make it out of 1/4″ stainless steel with a bent leading edge so that the chain would pass through it easily.  Of to the machinist.  They turned out great.  Then I took them to a metal finishing shop to have them cleaned up and polished.  Not as shiny as I’d  like but still pretty slick. After a few attempts to get the bolt setup just right, here’s the finished deal.  Anchor down.  And now, in place and secure.  I like it a lot.My only fear is that the extension might bend.  We’ll have to see.  The 1/4″ steel with the bent lip is pretty tough but only time will tell. 

So, now I am ready to go, nearly.  Wish me luck with crew and weather.  I do want to sail, of course.   Not too much wind please…

Enough with blogging. Time to “get the lead out’ and get on with my day.

Heading south soon. Yes, in about a week.

It’s Sunday morning and the sun is out.  Yesterday began as a sunny day but deteriorated as the day went on, delivering some much needed rain.   It’s cool, no make that COLD, in the low 50s, the coldest morning yet As we head into fall.  I am always struck by how quickly the temperatures fall once you get past Labor Day here on the CT River.  One day it’s in the 80s and the next…

A friend years ago remarked that “you could hear the iron gates slam shut on Labor Day” and that seems about right to me.   Before you know it, we will all be complaining about the cold.   No wait, I am complaining already.  And, I can’t wait to rake leaves!  NOT!!!

Anyway, I have not written much about our plans for this winter but they are coming together, so here goes…

In about a week I will shove off with Pandora to take her south with crew to ST Mary’s GA where she will be pulled out of the water for a few months.  Brenda and I will be joining her there right after the New Year to sail down to Miami and probably the Florida Keys.  We have wanted to explore this area for some time and are looking forward to trying it out this year. We are also looking forward to spending a leisurely time heading down the Intra Costal Waterway, down the coast of Florida, a trip that we enjoyed two years ago.

We may head over to the Bahamas at some point but that’s unclear right now. Brenda needs to head back to CT in mid March for a conference for a week and certainly heading out from Miami will be easier for her.  We also have a wedding in SC in mid April so when you add it all up, staying in the US might be prudent.  Heck, it’s warm in the Keys too… Right?

Perhaps we can head down to Key West and then on to the Dry Tortugas and see the old fort.  I have heard that it’s pretty neat by friends of us that are avid bird watchers.   It seems that the remote location of Ft Jefferson, built during the Civil War, is a favorite stopover for migrating birds.

Remote or not, the fort is now a national park and it’s easy to get to by high speed ferry.  I don’t know if it’s practical to take the 70 mile run from Key West to the fort on Pandora.  I guess we will have to think about that.  However, this National Park Service video of the park is interesting.  Watch it and you will probably guess where the phrase “your name is Mudd” came from.Who knows what the winter will bring, but for sure we’ll be warm.

Between now and then, Brenda’s heading to a week long weaving conference in Rockport MA and I will be heading to Annapolis, aboard Pandora, to a Seven Seas Cruising Association event.   After that a “quick” run to GA and then I’ll fly home around October 10th.

Then, Brenda and I are heading to Portugal.  That will be my first extended visit outside of the US beyond the Bahamas.  As Portugal was a major sea power, I bet that there will be lots of fun things nautical to write about.

Well, there is certainly plenty to look forward to between now and May when I will bring Pandora back to New England in the spring.

Now, all that’s left is to provision Pandora, do some last minute repairs and upgrades.  For the next week, I’ll be pretty busy, that’s for sure.  You’d think that after months of summer to take care of it all that I’d be all ready to go.  Think again.

However, with the threat of frosty air, I’ll be motivated to “get the lead out” and head south.    And, now that you have probably guesses the origin of  the phrase “your name is Mudd” perhaps you are curious about the phrase “get the lead out”.

I am so pleased that you asked, even if you didn’t.  Well, it’s origin isn’t clear at all.  Some say that in early horse racing, lead weights were added to a horse’s load if the jockey was below a minimum weight.  However, “boys will be boys” and some jockeys, it seems, dumped their weights during the race to gain an advantage. However, it’s uncertain if that’s the actual origin.  I guess you will have to be the judge.

This is so great! Now I am really on a roll…   D0 you know what the origin of “three sheets to the wind” is?    Well, according to the UK based site,, the origin is as follows,

The phrase is these days more often given as ‘three sheets to the wind’, rather than the original ‘three sheets in the wind’. The earliest printed citation that I can find is in Pierce Egan’s Real Life in London, 1821:

“Old Wax and Bristles is about three sheets in the wind.”

Sailors at that time had a sliding scale of drunkenness; three sheets was the falling over stage; tipsy was just ‘one sheet in the wind’, or ‘a sheet in the wind’s eye’. An example appears in the novel The Fisher’s Daughter, by Catherine Ward, 1824:

“Wolf replenished his glass at the request of Mr. Blust, who, instead of being one sheet in the wind, was likely to get to three before he took his departure.”


Well, I’ll bet that you never knew that there were degrees of “sheets to the wind” on a scale of one to three.

Ok, Ok, I’ll quit now before I drive YOU to drink.

Well, just a few (hundred) more things to do to get Pandora ready to sail. Wish me luck.  On to warmer climes…soon for Pandora and her crew.

A huge regatta with 200,000 entries?

I have been writing a number of posts, probably more than you want to read, actually, about our recent time aboard the superyacht Marie, when we sailed in the Newport Bucket Regatta few weeks ago.

Well, to provide some balance, I did some research and found a “regatta” with a lot more participants.   However, while the total displacement of all 200,000 entries in this “fleet” is somewhat less than even one in the Newport Bucket, there is certainly no less excitement from those who finance and participate in this event.

However, I doubt that there is a regatta worldwide that has more folks involved.  Here’s a short video of the “start”.  Ready?Actually, there are other regattas using the same “one design” vessels. However, I am hard pressed to imagine one with more participants.  200,000 duckies is a lot of “foul play”.  Right?  And, with the opportunity to win a new car, the stakes are high indeed.

Here’s a local news report…
Who won? Well now you know.

But wait, there’s more… In other cities.
“Bob, Bob, enough already!!!

Ok, got it.

So, if you’ve had enough of rubber duckies here’s yet another, really well done, video of yet another regatta, but this time it’s one for some really, really “big duckies”, the Palma Superyacht Cup in Palma Mallorca. And, like the “Cinci” regatta, this one has also been going on for nearly 20 years.   Good to know that there are so many events with “staying power”.Alas, I am afraid to admit this but the one in Cincinnati is probably more my speed.

However, I enjoy writing about Marie and she did sail in the 2011 Palma event.  This video was commissioned by Vitters, her builder and it’s pretty impressive.  Well, I like it…
I’s pretty clear that some regattas are for the .001% crowd but it’s good to know that there are regattas for the other 99.999% of us. Whew!!!, what a relief.

Great videos, right?  Well, eclectic at least.  And, I’ll bet that you thought I was straying from my course.  Nope…  However, I do enjoy most anything that takes place on the water.

And, as if that’s not enough, Pandora heads to sea in less than a week. Where’s Pandora…going?  Good question.  Mallorca?  I am afraid that will have to wait a bit as I’d have to cross the “pond” first, and I am not quite ready for that.  I KNOW

Brenda’s not ready…

Where’s Pandora…going… I guess you’ll have to pass this way again, if you care.  I hope you do.


Marie, booming fun.

It’s Wednesday morning and I need to dash off this post so I can hit the road to go shooting with a good friend of my late father.  Shooting skeet was a favorite pastime for my dad and to shoot with Milan, one of his best shooting buddies, will be nostalgic.  It wasn’t that long ago when the three of us would shoot most Wednesdays.   Well, today will be fun too, as it’s been quite a while…

Anyway, as I was gathering up dad’s shooting gear which I will use at today’s outing, I thought that it would be fitting to write about another noisy pastime, firing the cannons aboard the Yacht Marie.  If you have not read any of my posts about Marie, the 180′ superyacht that Brenda and I sailed on a few weeks ago, I should mention that the owner Ed, LOVES antique weapons.  Aboard Marie there are a number of cannons on display as well as two mounted on the stern quarters that are fired REGULARLY.

When I say “often” I mean that Ed fires them whenever he has a “good” reason, and sometimes just because the mood strikes.  Good reasons include, but are not limited to, leaving the dock, returning to the dock, passing a boat or a resort on shore and finishing a race.  Of course, finishing a race, or better winning the race, calls for a “double broadside” or firing of both cannons together.

Well, when we were racing in the Newport Bucket Regatta, a few weeks ago, the “mood struck” often.   The first time we heard Ed holler, “fire in the hole” was as we were leaving the dock for race one.  Everyone instinctively covered their ears (the “ladies” were issued earplugs of course) and BOOOM!!! the cannon “spoke”.

These cannons are not the little sort of “pop-guns” that you hear at yacht clubs shooting 10ga blank shells at sunset.  These babies fire custom packed 8oz charges of black powder packed in aluminum foil packages.  For fun, I asked Rich, Marie’s engineer, to guide me through the process of preparing the cannon for firing.

Here goes..

The first thing that Rich does is get out is the “charge”.   It’s an 80z prepared slug of black powder wrapped securely in aluminum foil and rammed down the barrel.  I don’t know how much explosive force that much black powder has exactly but let me tell you, it’s plenty LOUD and it spits out a very satisfying cloud of white smoke.  Anyway, I am getting ahead of myself.

Here’s Rich patiently posing for me.  Note the foil “package” in his hand. That’s 8oz of black powder that provides the “business” portion of the cannon. Caution:  No open flames!!!Ramming the charge home to be sure it’s well packed into the bottom of the barrel.Next, Rich jams a narrow metal rod into the priming hole at the back of the cannon.  This allows him to pierce the foil in the charge. Note the protective canvas on the cabin side.  Don’t mar the varnish.   Also note that there are ropes on the base of the cannon.  They were added after someone inadvertently put two charges into one of the cannon and the resulting recoil was so great that the cannon slammed into the cabin side.  Oops! Next, he pours a cap-full of powder into the priming hole. Then,  he fully packs the priming into the hole to ensure that there are no gaps that might lead to a misfire. Finally, a “primer” is placed into the hole.   The “primer” is a small brass tube with a flint, sort of like striker on a match.  Note the little wire loop on the primer.  A lanyard is clipped to this so it can be pulled from a safe distance.

When this is deformed, or pulled, the flint gives off a spark which lights a small charge in the tube. This “spark” ignites the powder in the primer tube and, you guessed it, BOOOM!!! or should I say BOOOM!!!All set!  All that’s left is for Ed to bellow, loud enough to be heard from one end of Marie’s 180′ deck to the other, “fire in the hole”.  Oh yeah, Rich, closest to the “action” dons a good set of ear-muffs himself.

Yank the cord. and yes, BOOOM!!!  Of course, there are the occasional miss-fires.  Not to worry, Ed has TWO cannons, so there’s always a backup.

So, there will always be a terrific BOOOM!!!  Sometimes they are fired in close quarters, like in this shot.  I’ll bet that the neighbors really appreciated the attention.Other times he fires when Marie is “at sea”.   I am not sure that his little foiling sailboat aptly called  a “moth” would fare well against Marie and her cannon.Interestingly, these little boats are REALLY fast and when they get going they rise up on hydro-foils and scoot across the water.   I’ll bet that they are tough to sail but a real thrill if you master the technique.

I wonder what the FAA would think of a surface-to-air cannon bombardment from Marie toward this helicopter?  Probably a pretty dim view, I would expect. This little red chopper circled around Marie quite a bit taking pictures.  Hey Ed, want to buy a photo of your boat?  Take this…”fire in the hole!!!” This stately yacht might be a cause for a “salute” from Marie.   What a lovely vessel.    She looked right at home in the waters off of Newport. All and all, I can’t think of any pastime that goes quite as well with sailing as firing cannons.  And, it seems that Ed has the resources, combined with a teenagers love of LOUD NOISES, and the cannon to make the best of both,  to “puncuate” his outings in a way that makes his point “loud and clear”.  What fun.  I LOVED IT!!!

Yes, today is a good day to go out and make some noise shooting skeet with Milan.  I am sure that Dad would have approved, and would have liked Ed’s toys too.

I guess that Boys will be boys on land and on sea.